Yesterday, I watched the time tick over on my iPhone to display 129 days 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds until I depart for Kilimanjaro. Just over four months. It has been quite a journey already (as I said in my initial post back in Sep/12). I can confidently say – a full year later – that my training is on track and everything is set for this trip.
I received my final clearance from my hematologist on Friday to make the trip which was critical given my past experience with pulmonary embolism (PE). This week I also make my final payment to Tusker Trails. All in all, this experience has cost more than I had anticipated mainly as I was unable to use my travel points to secure my flight. However, I remain committed and know that it will be a life experience in so many ways… but more so as it has a deeply personal element to it. Sometimes I get so excited about this all coming to fruition – finally – that I have to remember to “just breathe”.
On that note, I want to emphasize how important it is to support lung research. It has been said that “when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters” and it is so true. Watching a loved one struggle for every breath or feeling the panic arise in your own body is terrifying. During my training for Kili, I sometimes still encounter that body-panic when pushing myself beyond my limits and have to talk myself through it….as at one time, I really struggled to breath (due to PE). It doesn’t leave you and is very basic, primal…..the fear of not being able to get a breath…..to just breathe.
Our life breath is something that we all share no matter our creed, race, religion, sex, orientation, ability… or whatever artificial ways we segregate ourselves. From the time we drew our very first breath, it is what unites us. I have another term for this and it is SILA, an Inuktitut word which, in its traditional meaning, stands for “life essence”, something we all share. (For more information, see my corporate website http://www.silanorth.com/sila.html).
Kili Climb for Life
I have taken some clear steps to put the Kili Climb for Life initiative out there – a website, a dedicated Facebook page, a donation page, updates in my corporate newsletter and to my personal Facebook — with the hope of raising funds for lung research, an issue that has afflicted my family and so many others I know and love. I am also hoping to build awareness about lung health and disease prevention generally. Truly, if I can encourage anyone to take a moment and consider their health and the impact on their family should they become seriously ill, if I can encourage anyone to pause and place their health higher on the priority list, if I can encourage anyone to realize it isn’t not just their health but everyone’s, then I would feel I have accomplished something. Of course, there are health crises that arise regardless but when we can, why not look after ourselves so that we can be better partners, spouses, parents, friends to those we care about most?
I am inspired daily by the people I see around me who have taken this message to heart… clearly. A woman I have not yet actually met face to face who has the courage and strength to inspire others to achieve their physical best while, as a parent, bravely helping her only child tackle a terminal illness. A cancer patient who has chosen to humorously record his treatment and setbacks – we’re talking videos on Facebook here!!! – so much so that the nursing staff enjoy coming to the cancer ward just to be around him. This past week, I also saw a group from the small island of Waiheke (off New Zealand) featured on TV who performed in Las Vegas this month. They are the oldest hip-hop group in the world, starting at age 66 and ranging upwards to 96. Their name… Hip Op-eration. Look them up. Then there’s Ernestine Shepherd who is the oldest female body builder in the world and recognized in the Guinness World Records. She started lifting weights in her late 50’s with her sister after they decided to buy bathing suits and didn’t like what they saw in the mirror. Sound familiar? When her sister passed away unexpectedly, Ernestine took it upon herself to inspire others to look after their health first and foremost. At age 75, she continues to compete as a professional bodybuilder and also teaches and coaches others to achieve their personal best.
Take care of yourself so you can be there to look after those you love…and who love you. If you can, please donate to Kili Climb for Life so that we can develop better treatments to support lung health … however, if not Kili Climb for Life, then give to another deserving cause that desperately needs your contributions to help make things happen. If you need ideas, I can point you to many other worthy causes – northern and otherwise.
Be well. Breathe… just breathe.