Climb every mountain – one step at a time

On Saturday 18 March, my colleague Elle McGlynn and I took on the 2017 Rare Cancers Australia Mount Kosciuszko challenge, an event in its fifth year which involves trekking over a height of 2,228 metres to the peak of Mount Kosciuszko.

It was a cold start to the morning as we registered and started our ascent to the top of the mountain. Having never done the climb before and hearing Elle’s repeated “it will be fine!” comments, I was eager to set off. But after four kilometres of steep steps I thought I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew.

Elle kept the encouragement up, breaking the hardest part (the first four kilometres), into smaller sections. After a few rest breaks and pushing to get a little further up each time we started up again, we finally reached the first check point.

During a quick break, I reflected on not only the day so far (and the kilometres to go!) but also my last year, and how moving to Australia was the biggest mountain I’ve ever climbed, and I’d accomplished it.

We often face challenges or issues which seem like giant mountains, sometimes bigger than Everest. However we can have a greater chance of succeeding if we break it up into smaller milestones, making the daunting more achievable. This is where team support and encouragement play a huge part, not only in achieving the impossible, but also maintaining a positive mindset.

If it hadn’t been for Elle I would have decided the chairlift was the only way forward, after all it was the easier option. I would have achieved the same outcome but also would have felt that I cheated all the people who had sponsored us. The easier option isn’t always the answer, as you might miss out on important lessons or vital pieces of information and it’s the same when dealing with issues of any kind. Sometimes a little extra support can make all the difference between succeeding and failing.

Almost all of us in our lifetime unfortunately will know someone who gets cancer, be it a family member or a friend. One of my childhood friends died from lung cancer a few years ago, he was only 30. Another of my friends contracted skin cancer at the age of 18 – luckily she survived – and only this year one of my mother’s friends lost a battle with a rare form of lung cancer.

These people have all contributed to my life somehow and have made me who I am today. So when the opportunity came up to help support Rare Cancers Australia I jumped at the opportunity. These people are why I was determined to reach the peak of the mountain come what may, be it walking or crawling. 

We finally reached the top and I can honestly say I’ve never felt so happy and full of achievement. Not only had I achieved a new personal goal, I also felt proud to have done it for people who I’ve never met, but who climb mountains of a different kind every day, fighting rare cancer. Over 350 people took part, raising a total of over $140,000 for this great cause.

This experience not only showed me that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it, but that sometimes we need to reflect on and remind ourselves of the ‘why’, and that we all need that extra bit of support to help us get there.