But why are you doing this thing? Is it on your bucket list?
Ummm. Sure it is – or not, don’t have a proper bucket list, more a meanderer looking for opportunities. But say that yes – it is. Does that count?
The honest truth is I’ve always looked for an opportunity to spend a week without showering or washing my hair, and in all possibility vomiting profusely for at least a couple of those days.
No, actually, that’s not it either.
I guess I like to set goals for myself and achieve them and this is one that came along and I just signed up. I’ve got some form on the hiking front, for starters my other blog lists hiking as a personal interest, as does my resume – that counts right!?! I’ve also fronted up three times for the Hong Kong Greenpower hike from the Peak to a far flung beach – 50kms no less, up (and down) the green corridors that are surprisingly plentiful on that small island.
I think I can still get up this mountain and when I do it I will remember others that can’t.
I’m not good at writing seriously – not because I can’t be, but because I am afraid of missing something in the telling. There are so many people that can write so beautifully about things that mean something to them and are important, but I’m afraid I can’t, I can only tell you how I see it.
Sorry to use a swear word (look away under 18’s, or is it under 16’s?) but I know you all agree. I am sure anyone that reads this has a friend, family member or acquaintance that has been affected by the dreaded Big C. It’s a horrible disease that defies logic along with many other things, there are so many different forms of it and not even they follow agreed paths or timelines.
For example, two people who are special to me were diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, Stage IV at diagnosis.
One is my mother. When I was pregnant with the child currently referred to as the World’s Angriest Four Year Old (WAFYO – just because she’s bound to appear on here again at some stage) I took a call at work in Hong Kong one day from my Mum at home in Australia and she told me she had Bowel Cancer. That’s not a good phone call. What followed was something that people who have been there with family members and friends understand, statistics like 30% success rate for operations and treatments suddenly seem to be amazingly positive possibilities (as opposed to when you were at school and that was your possible exam result). Because the alternative, what could happen the other 70% of the time is just not able to be considered.
It was five years in May since my Mother’s diagnosis, I cannot understand what she has been through although I know the facts – the number of operations, the number of chemo treatments that worked and didn’t, the ‘overlooking’ of a new related tumour for two years because of apparent radiographer/oncologist incompetence, another operation, the Chinese doctor that has kept her body and mind healthy through all the western treatments, her ability to stay focused and positive and still come and visit us overseas in Hong Kong and South Africa (on occasion against medical advice) to enjoy the company of her adoring grandchildren, who love their ‘Mumma’ all the time even when they don’t like me very much. Through it all she has kept her own record of events for the hundreds and hundreds- and I am not kidding about that number- of people all over the world that she counts as friends.
My mum is a special person, she is after all my Mum, but she deals with so many things (not just her cancer) in such a positive and upbeat way for the most part- as well as forgive me my many failings as an absent daughter that not enough can be said about how wonderful and unique she is and what she inspires in others.
So apart from the fact that she sent ME flowers for Mother’s day this year (correct- I sent her none) let me give you an example.
After discovering Mum’s illness and diagnosis one of her very closest friends took off on a ‘short’ 850km walk across the Camino, the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela to find a challenge as close as she could think of to the one facing Mum. After completing the journey, she wrote a book, dedicated it to mum and donated all the royalties from the first edition to Cancer research. These are the kinds of amazing friends that she has.
Five years on the doctors do not exactly know what to do with her, the cancer keeps coming back and somehow Mum keeps turning it away. Its back again now, and this time, like the other times it seems worse than before but part of me just keeps believing once again she will conquer it. If recent blood test results continue their trend, it appears that once again she will push it back and carry on with her grey nomad adventures in the ‘Hopemobile’.
I will climb Kilimanjaro for my Mum and remember how hard her journey has been and the unknown road ahead.
The other person is my friend Jodi. I met Jodi in 1995 when she was sharing a house with my boyfriend Sam (now husband) and some other friends in Bris Vegas (that’s Brisbane, Queensland for all you non-Aussies). They were all from Adelaide, living in Queensland and like ‘Adelaidians’ and South Australians everywhere – even though they had never met before managed to find each other in another location and become friends. Jodi started seeing Nick, a friend of Sam’s from school – of course. Later, the three of them moved to Sydney (not together) and we continued our friendship all living in the same city. Nick was a groomsman at our wedding, I organised Jodi’s hen’s day in Sydney in the absence of her out of town bridesmaids and Sam was a groomsman at their wedding. Our adventures together continued as Nick and Jodi became traveling Aussies at large, as we were, first in the UK and then in Vietnam. The Lees and the Moffitts holidayed in Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Hong Kong and Adelaide together. Our kids played together, we had fun and plenty of laughs. Jodi was a wonderful reassuring presence and support when our son was going through his diagnosis with Aspergers having worked extensively with ASD children during her teaching career.
Then one day, we got another phone call. It was Mum’s diagnosis all over again. Jodi had to be air lifted from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok once they realised there was a problem and she had to be operated on nearly immediately. The upheaval and changes caused not only by her diagnosis but by living away from Australia and in a country with a different medical system were huge. Soon afterwards Nick, Jodi and their children Jack and Arabella moved back to Australia and Adelaide to be close to their families and continue their fight against the disease. I thought I knew how it would go from there, but no cancer, not even one with the same name and numbers follows the same path. She fought the cancer bravely for two years and then we got another phone call. My gorgeous friend had died. We were here in South Africa by then and only one of us could travel back to Australia for the funeral. I remember my ridiculous comment to Nick at the funeral ‘Sam and I had to draw straws on who would come’ (I am absolutely hopeless in these situations, can you tell?) Nick said ‘I hope you were the one that won’. Of course we had both wanted to go – to remember an amazing person, mother and friend. There were hundreds of people there, many had traveled from different, cities, states and countries to attend and say their own goodbye to Jod.
Not long afterwards The Jodi Lee Foundation was formed and in less than 18 months through some amazing efforts and activities it has already raised AUD $250,000 towards promoting awareness of bowel cancer and encouraging early detection through regular screening from age 40. People such as Nick, Alastair Cavill who just completed the Gobi March and Andrew Poole through his organisation of The Ride for the Little Black Dress (Jodi’s outfit of choice) have made tough, endurance type of activities a hallmark of fundraising for the foundation.
I hope to contribute to the Foundation through our climb and fly the Jodi Lee Foundation banner atop Kili. If you would like to donate to support me you can go here and do so, remember to choose the drop down (gulp) ‘Kilimanjaro climb’ so I can thank you later for the extra pressure to make it up there.
My target is to make it to to the top and fly that banner.
I know Jodi would want me to do that as quickly as possible. I am almost sure what her advice for the climb would be
‘The sooner you finish this Nikki, the sooner you can have a shower and wash that vomit out of your hair.’