I applied to participate in the Survivor Summit after seeing that my friend (and awesome survivor), Amy, had been accepted to participate. A longshot at best, I submitted my application knowing that my chances of being selected were minimal. The climb was full and there was a growing waiting list. I stood still in my tracks a few days later when I was told that my story of hope was a perfect fit. In June, I will be one of 17 people to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with Survivor Summit and LIVESTRONG.
My mom, Lou McIntyre, is my primary inspiration (I’ll introduce you to the others in upcoming posts). She battled breast cancer three times too many, and 22 years too long. Cancer was her mountain, her destination was heaven and those who knew and loved her were passengers on her journey. She was our Little Engine That Could.
She put the “can” in cancer. “Can’t” was not in her vocabulary. Like the Little Blue Engine, she approached the challenges in her life–daunting as they were–with hope, courage, and determination. There was no mountain she couldn’t climb.
When a renowned oncologist she consulted with told her in 2005 that she only had months to live, she left his office without making another appointment, never to see him again. He had taken away her hope so she continued the rest of her three and a half year journey without him.
When she had her hip replaced, she forced herself to get out of bed to exercise her titanium hip within 24 hours of surgery. Nurses told us that many don’t get out of bed when they’re asked to, much less do it regularly, because the pain is excruciating. Not my mom. She got out of bed multiple times daily and she continued up the mountain.
Two days before she died, in spite of her pain, she asked the nurses to help her get out of bed. “I can do this,” she said. And with great struggle, she did. Onward she chugged, huffing and puffing as she approached her final destination.
These are only a few of the examples that come to mind, although she lived an uphill battle every day.
My mom lived strong until the day she died on July 2, 2008. I’m so honored to be her daughter and while I miss her physical presence, I know that she’s not far away. She’s now a guardian angel cheering me on as I channel the Little Engine That Could on a journey of my own. It is no coincidence that I will be summiting Kilimanjaro on July 2, four years to the very day that my mom died.
I can think of no greater way to honor her than to climb Kilimanjaro in support of the many others like her who fight an uphill battle against cancer. (Sadly, my list of friends touched by cancer is long, so I’ll be wearing many names on this journey. However, Caroline, Jax, Amy, Dino, Kim, Kell, Ricky, Regan, Kasyn, Keely and Kirk, I live strong for you in particular). Cancer is my mountain. Climb it? I think I can. And I will.
The money I raise will benefit LIVESTRONG, which serves people affected by cancer and empowers them to take action against this disease that is now the world’s leading cause of death. LIVESTRONG has become a symbol of hope and inspiration to people affected by cancer around the world. I hope you’ll help me further its mission by supporting me on this climb. Whether you’re able to contribute or not, please know that you have paid me generously with your friendship and I’ll take your encouragement and your love all the way up that mountain.
LIVESTRONG and love.