It was on July 11th 2011 that I wrote the first version of ‘The Why’ explaining my reasons behind climbing Kili and asking for your indulgence in following my journey. Thankfully after being such a loudmouth about the whole thing I actually made it to the top, flew the flag, had the picture, had South Africa post lose my first round of thank you letters and dragged my heels on the second round. (Note to self – lessons for this time around). So much has happened since then just ten months ago that it seems a lot to process.
First order of business is my mum’s health, when last I wrote she was about to move into a new treatment phase to address the sinister creeping (look away kids) fucking cancer that had returned to new pastures in her body. Once again drawing on her strengths and reserves, medicine both traditional and alternative she has triumphed over the beast and after a torrid few months of radiation treatment and chemo while under the additional supervision of her Chinese medicine physician she is once again getting great blood test results, body scans and the all clear for a new international jaunt in the second half of this year where she will come and visit us in our new country of residence (yes – we’re moving in June from South Africa to the USA – Atlanta, Georgia). Did I mention last time she was diagnosed when I was pregnant with my daughter now 5? Since then she has welcomed three new grandchildren, the latest just last month and she has already had two trips to Queensland to visit the gorgeous baby Isabel and her big brother Oscar.
To summarise she is six years into her diagnosis of Bowel Cancer Stage IV, plus three grandkids (four in total), plus one Hopemobile (her own Grey Nomad method of transportation used for camping up and down the Aussie coastline) and a round the world plane ticket in hand (not her first in the last six years). Yay for my Mum!!!
I cannot say enough wonderful things about my friends, family and absolute strangers who sponsored me for my Kili climb. I am so indebted to them for their support and encouragement, I made it to the top – which was the idea and my stated goal, but in some ways I feel I let them down. I didn’t insist, nor even ask that they get tested for Bowel Cancer when I gratefully accepted their words of encouragement and sponsorship dollars.
I wish I had.
At Christmas time my wonderful friend Sarah and her family from Hong Kong came to South Africa to visit us, luckily for us her lovely husband is South African and they have been twice to visit since we have been here. Our eldest sons are best friends from pre-school days and always pick up where they left off and our youngest (hers a boy – mine a tomboy) are also very close, born a month apart at the same hotel-spital in Hong Kong. We spent some wonderful times together during their stay both at our place and with her in-laws and friends here in SA. It was so wonderful to see them all looking so well and happy. Sarah was very dedicated while she was here, running four to five times a week in training for the Hong Kong GreenPower event that she was running later in January. Her first year at 25kms (she usually tackles the 50kms – in fact we did it together twice as part of the same team) she wanted to run rather than just hike.
On the 15th January she sent me a text to say she had finished in under three hours and was very chuffed with her time – if you knew the trail you would be very impressed as I was. On the 22nd January she sent me an email titled ‘News’. It wasn’t good news, it was bad news, bowel cancer bad news.
As I write this she is in a rest week between 25 rounds of radiation and an eight cycle chemo treatment program. She is strong, positive, fit and healthy and has incredible support from family and friends near and far.
If you saw Sarah and me side by side – you would pick her as the one about to run the New York marathon, not me. This year I am going to finish the marathon and then text her to tell her my time – it will not be as impressive as hers would have been, but perhaps she’ll run it next year for a comparison, I would not count her out. Or maybe she’ll just come to visit for the shopping and a girls trip – that works too.
In July last year The Jodi Lee Foundation had raised almost AUD $250,000 towards increasing awareness of Bowel Cancer and early detection, as of today after some amazing fundraising efforts they have raised AUD $790, 844 and counting. No doubt the first million is just round the corner and more importantly increased awareness translating into saving lives. Jodi would have been amazed but not at all surprised at Nick’s dedication to the cause and success in achieving the goals of the foundation. She would also have been proud that I didn’t have any vomit in my hair after seven days on Kilimanjaro, although not sure she would have approved of the plaits I wore to stave off the greasy hair.
So The Why changes while it stays the same.
Sarah, Mum and Jodi, I am going to run, walk, limp or drag myself across that finish line on November 4th and while my body may ache, throb, cramp or seize up (why say may – lets face it – probably will) I will try to remember that its just a drop in the ocean compared to what you have faced and just keep going.