On Sunday, June 13, 26 individuals from across the country will meet together in Northern California to begin final preparations for an expedition of a lifetime. They have each put in countless hours of fundraising and six months of rigorous training – whether hiking the modest hills in Central Florida to climbing the peaks of Montana – in order to scale the 14,179-foot Mt. Shasta. But for many, Climb Against the Odds is not only a physical journey – it’s also been a mental and emotional experience in honoring the courage it takes to face breast cancer and their loved ones touched by the disease.
Here are some thoughts from our climbers as they reflect on their experiences and what lies ahead. Join us here during the week of June 13 for regular updates on their progress!
Rebecca Shaloff, 28, Washington, D.C.
After months of preparation and anticipation, I look forward to putting one foot in front of the other. With each step, I'll think about all my loved ones and supporters who helped me get to this point. With each mile marker, I'll consider those in my life who faced their cancer diagnosis with fierceness. And when I reach my personal summit, I'll hold my head up high and remember my Mom and all those who have already made their ascent.
Karen Pautz, 41, Mt. Shasta, Calif.
I think with so much going on in my life the biggest message is "the climb is a journey not a race". Remembering to stay focused on my goals, both in fundraising and climbing, and recruiting others to help with the journey has been a key for me. There is no way I could go through this journey alone! Thanks to my friends, family, colleagues and cheerleaders, I am less than $2000 away from reaching my goal of raising $14,179 and in better shape physically than I have ever been to take on the challenge of the climb.
Hendy Dayton, 50, San Francisco, breast cancer survivor
I am feeling stronger by the day and can't wait to see my training team and meet the rest of the climbers. As a survivor, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do this. Every adventure, every day is a gift.
Ragna Thorne-Thomsen, 39, Missoula, Mont.
I have gone from really excited, to apprehensive, to pensive and back to really excited. I am overwhelmed with the support from my family, my friends and the community, all the encouragement along the way. The fundraising has given me more insight into how many people have been affected by breast cancer, and cancer in general, and how much people will give to try to overcome it. The training restored my fitness and spirit. I began hiking in the snow, then mud and ice, then wildflowers. I hope a bitterroot that is just a bud will bloom before I depart for Mount Shasta.
The unfolding of spring seems a metaphor for the preparation, the climb and for this cause. Each week and month has built upon the last with fundraising, with fitness, with the bills in the legislature beginning to ask the big questions about chemicals.
I think of all the team members living their lives and putting forth that extra two to three hours a day for fundraising or training or writing thank you letters (wondering where will they find all the energy). I think of people living with cancer and fighting cancer (wondering where will they find all the energy). I think when I am taking step after step up the steep, incredible mountain, where will I find the energy. I think I will find it in the wonder of renewal, the power of survival, the beauty of a whole team coming together to work toward one goal (the goal of a less toxic tomorrow and today). I am really so excited to be with this team on what looks and sounds to be an incredible mountain, embarking on a great adventure and journey. We bring with us an array of strengths and beauty, like all the wild flowers create the mountain meadow, combined we are the CAO team of 2010.
Whitney Pond, 16, Danville, Calif.
My favorite part of the Climb Against the Odds experience has been seeing how supportive my community is.
Joey Beauregard, 49, Clermont, Fla.
I am looking forward with delighted anticipation to the time when I get to meet my fellow climbers and the sparkling Mt. Shasta! It will be great to see those gnarly easterners again as well!
Cathy Ann Taylor, 46, Sausalito, Calif.
When we are heading to climb a mountain we want to remember the mountains are living forces, sources of power and symbols of the sacred. I fell in love with mountains at an early age and I think when I saw my first snow-capped mountain, that mountain had such tremendous power and it moved me in a way I can't describe, something deep within me and that gave me the urge to climb to its summit. Mountains are pure and magical and that's what keeps me going. Mountains and mountaineering embody values that many people and cultures hold sacred the world over.
I truly believe that there is no better way to equate the daunting challenge of fighting breast cancer or any cancer to that of the hardships involved in climbing a mountain. We have worked together as a team for the last five months, and I look forward to sharing the incredible experiences we will have up on Sacred Mount Shasta together. She is a true force of Nature and we will respect her! Shasta will conquer us!
Sara Thorpe, 52, and Elly Fike, 14, Kentfield, Calif.
Having completed snow training school and thrown ourselves head first down the mountain and successfully arrested our descent using our ice axes - we are up for the challenge!
Fig newtons are the secret. (Elly) And MoJo bars. (Sara)