I did some rock climbing in my early twenties, mostly bouldering, although there was some roped climbs. In my mid to late twenties, I focused more on cycling, and not so much on climbing. Just after my 30th birthday I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It was located in my salivary gland, and the tumor sat right on top of the nerve that controls all movement on that side of my face. It was mm between the two, and if the surgeon nicked the nerve during surgery, I would have no movement in that side of my face. I was so relieved when I woke up the morning after surgery with full function of my face. I was more than willing to sacrifice that to continue to enjoy the wonders of this world though. After going through an intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment, I concentrated EVERYTHING I had to be healthy. There was a point during my treatment that I lost all sense of taste- everything tasted like rusty nails. For an ex chef going through a cancer treatment, food was one thing I could still truly enjoy. The day I was told that my biopsy came back positive I went from a pack a day smoker to nothing, as well as completely quitting drinking. There were a lot of life changes in a short period of time, and realizations that I could not continue to treat my body like trash, and continue to have my health. In the first two years after the treatment, although I was staying positive, I was just waiting for some kind of bad news… it never came. I finally started mountain biking and found myself intrigued by tree climbing. I started by doing recreational climbing, and knew quickly my interest was deeper than that. I have always been amazed by trees (as most people are, in some way or another). I decided to pursue the learning of biology and climbing skills that come with becoming a certified arborist. At the end of this year, after riding multiple century (100 mile) road bike rides and a total of over 5,000 miles and 500,000 feet of climbing during the year… I passed my certified arborist exam. It was a big achievement in my life, and I feel like I will always be learning about trees, about climbing, and about myself. If there was anything that I could share with someone who has not went through a situation like this- it would be to TRULY appreciate what amazing things you have in your life, and in turn live everyday like it is your last and you will never regret a day of your life.
Most people have been affected by cancer in one way or another. Whether it’s through a family or friend, or even a personal battle. Share your story here and let others know they’re not alone in the climb against cancer.Share