I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2018 at the age of 31 and underwent surgery, radiotherapy and hormone treatment to remove the cancer and hopefully stop it coming back. Although the treatment has been successful it has had lasting physical and mental effects that are continuing to impact my ability to concentrate and to do the physical activities I enjoy so much, including my main passion, climbing. I'm working hard to get back to full strength and have been training at the climbing wall whenever I feel up to it since about three weeks after my surgery (not necessarily advised!). However, my ability to walk long distances is hampered by joint pain from ongoing hormone treatment, and my muscles and joints ache much more than they used to after I've been climbing. I also suffer from ongoing fatigue and what I can only describe as brain fog, which are making the return to my job as a lecturer in physical geography a real challenge.
In April 2019 I plan to climb the stunning 395m-long route South Ridge Direct of Cir Mhor on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. This will be a personal challenge for me as I haven't pushed myself to do anywhere near this amount of climbing over the last year. Nor have I done any significant hill walks (let alone with a heavy backpack full of trad climbing gear!). I want to show that a cancer diagnosis doesn't always mean that life can't go on as it did before, even if it adds new dimensions and challenges.
I'm raising money for Climbers Against Cancer to give something back to the cancer community, and to raise awareness that breast cancer can and does happen to young women, despite only making up a very small proportion of diagnoses each year. The money raised by Climbers Against Cancer is distributed to cancer research charities around the world, who all work so hard to prevent and improve the outcome for people who experience cancer. To find out more about Climbers Against Cancer check out their website here:
You can also read a bit more about my experience with breast cancer and its impact on exercise and my work as a lecturer and glacier researcher here:
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