In an attempt to avoid the harsh realities of chemotherapy, my search for alternatives led me to a cancer clinic in Latvia. There I met with an oncologist who also does mountaineering. What a combination.
To cut a long story short, the aggressiveness of my cancer meant that for me chemo was unavoidable.
As we said our goodbyes and I began my long journey back home to Australia to face the treatment which I had been fearing more than the disease itself, I said something to the oncologist that planted a seed which would come to shape my entire cancer journey and most likely the treatment outcome.
As I hugged her goodbye I said 'the next time we meet, I don't want it to be inside a cancer clinic but on the top of Mt Blanc'. She said 'sounds good, but let's start with a smaller mountain'. And that's where this crazy story begins.
Although the next six months were going to be the toughest of my life, I already had my sights set on bigger and better things. I had mountains to climb. This gave birth to the idea of the #chemoclimb.
This idea got me excited, motivated me to exercise during chemo and most importantly gave me something to look forward to at the end of a tough road. It also meant I was making a promise that I would survive. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't always easy, but having that vision and knowing why it was important to keep moving, made everything seem less difficult.
My chemo experience is a testament to the importance of exercise during one of the most trialing times on the human body both physically and mentally. As part of this blog, I wish to raise awareness of the importance of these exercise programs for rehabilitation in the hope that they will one day become an integral part of the mainstream cancer treatment protocol. Much like the program I undertook at Calvary Rehabilitation Hospital during chemotherapy.
Alongside the existing posters of 'look good, feel better' programs, I believe we must see posters of the infamous bald heads in their activewear and moving their bodies. A quiet walk through the forest, a yoga pose, a dance twirl, or on a mountain peak, regardless of the fitness level the aim is the same - just move. Movement is our basic right as human beings but unfortunately the increasing number of sedentary professions seem to have taken that basic right away.
Exercise helped save my life!
Help me to raise awareness on the importance of exercise during chemotherapy and keep my promise to climb mountains.
The climb itself will start on the 28th August 2018 on a mountain called Stara Planina, to acknowledge my Serbian heritage. I've invited a group of close friends to accompany me on my first climb. The significance of this date is multi faceted. Apart from being a significant feast day, it's the date a dear friend of mine lost her own battle with cancer, but to this day she continues being a tremendous source of inspiration for me. I had my second surgery on this day, and learnt the importance of second chances.
Donations received will go towards a short film documenting this entire cancer journey. You'll get insight into this rollercoaster ride I've been on since hearing the initial diagnosis. I wish to share it all, in the hope that it will provide comfort to those who need it most and show that even a cancer diagnosis can be just the beginning of an inspirational journey. Because when you reach rock bottom, the only way is up, and being someone who takes everything literally - I did just that. I still have a long way to go. The next few years will be crucial for me, as I focus my efforts on keeping such an aggressive cancer at bay.
By donating, you will also be assisting me to continue with my chosen therapies. Chemotherapy is such a harsh method of treating cancer patients, yet it's not a guaranteed cure. I honestly believe that virotherapy will become one of the main cancer treatment methods in the future. However until that day arrives, this costly treatment is all on us patients. I will detail my experiences with virotherapy in an upcoming blog post on my chosen treatment path.
I hope that my blog provides you with some inspiration when faced with your own adversities. It doesn't necessarily have to be cancer, but I believe that part of the human experience inevitably involves being faced with challenges. If I can dance through chemo, imagine what you can do!
I will document the entire journey and hopefully inspire others to really wake up when that knock on the door arrives (or better yet, act now and don't even wait for that knock).
I don't know how much time I have left, but I know that I want it to be meaningful and to leave a mark on the world, no matter how small. I want the world to be a slightly better place because I lived and had something to contribute. Nothing is random. This happened to me for a reason and I know that a lot of good will come out of this situation. It's helping me get closer to whatever it is I am meant to achieve in this lifetime. I'm finally taking the first few steps in the right direction, albeit a vertical one because that's just me, I do everything the hard way. So please support me on my #chemoclimb so that together we can reap the rewards of my discoveries along the way.