For me, the cause is personal. Six years ago, my mother was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. After multiple invasive surgeries, three rounds of brutal chemotherapy, and the removal of too many organs to count, she was back on her way to a healthy life and ready to put the cancer behind her. To celebrate, my mother planned a bucket-list trip to summit Half Dome in Yosemite. That’s 17 miles, 5,000 feet of elevation, and 14 hours of climbing. Per the usual, her passion for the hike turned contagious, and what had started as a simple family vacation quickly grew into a 30-person parade through Yosemite.
The night before the hike, while trying to play hostess to the large gathering of people who had assembled in Curry Village, my mother received a missed call. It was from her doctor. On a Saturday. She immediately knew what it meant: The cancer was back. Without telling a soul, my 60-year-old mother pushed through the hardest hike of her life. Not just physically, but emotionally. As she climbed the 5,000 feet from its base, the top of Half Dome personified itself into the cancer that was growing inside her. Conquering the mountain became conquering the disease. With heavy legs burning of lactic acid, she pushed through to the summit. It became a defining moment. Not just for her. For all of us.
I hope you come to the Hike for the Cure. If for nothing else, just to meet my mother Susan Turner. Despite the odds, she’s alive and hiking. Still living with cancer, hiking for her has kept its meaning. My mother, like many of us, uses the time to organize her thoughts, accomplish something physical and connect with a world she will leave sooner than she should. I hope you do too. The Hike for the Cure takes place on November 8th, 2014 at 9:00 AM from the Top of the World. Please visit our website at www.facebook.com/hikeforcure. I look forward to seeing you there.