My next “Why I Climb” is for Katie Schofield.
Katie, my fellow Survivor Summit teammate, is a thyroid cancer survivor, celebrating 30 years of NED (or “no evidence of disease”—meaning she is currently cancer-free). When she was diagnosed as a young college student, she got medicine, surgery, and a pamphlet about thyroid cancer. She was told her prognosis was good. Yet she received no outside support, financially or emotionally. No wonder Katie loves LIVESTRONG, which provides cancer programs and services for the newly diagnosed, survivors, family members, friends, and caretakers.
Like a few of my other teammates, Katie had unknowingly eaten some things that made climbing Kilimanjaro even more of a challenge. Her stomach was upset for a few days, and once that subsided, some breathing difficulties kicked in as the result of the high altitude and dry, dusty air at the camps. But Katie was ever the trooper, and would put her head down to get the job done. I really admired her can-do spirit. Katie taught me about the importance of having the mental toughness to persevere, even when one doesn’t feel well, or when things don’t go as planned.
I also loved that Katie invited me to get involved with her “Friends Fighting Cancer” cycling group, which routinely participates in LIVESTRONG Challenges. I’m still undecided about whether I can make this year’s event in Austin, but Katie’s kindness makes her a fantastic advocate for LIVESTRONG’s mission and for cancer survivors everywhere. Simply put, I hope Katie gets another 30 years of NED to spread her joy and good attitude everywhere she goes—maybe that will include the peaks of other mountains, too.
Today, I climb for Katie.