Norman Croucher (OBE) is the acclaimed mountain climber who, despite having two below the knee artificial legs, set out to climb just one of the world's 14 mountains which exceed 8,000 metres (about 26,250 feet) or as he put it "join the 5-mile high club". His goal truly was a near impossible dream.
“In November 2012 I was diagnosed as having bowel cancer”, says Norman. Following chemotherapy and radiotherapy, an irreversible colostomy operation rid me of the disease. I face the prospect of remedial surgery this year.
I plan to get fit for a trip to the Alps in summer 2014. Two friends, Claire Bradford and Ian Swarbrick who survived a severe brain tumour and a broken neck respectively, will accompany me to Chamonix, France, where we will link up with other survivors, most of whom have had cancer.
We aim to climb two or three peaks of about 3,500 metres / 11,500 feet, to raise money for our local hospice organisation, Exeter Hospiscare. Whilst celebrating survival we shall also be aware that many individuals have not been so fortunate; we will remember them.
Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.
update from the trip….
My two survivor companions, Claire and Ian were unable to join us in France because Claire’s mother’s cancer had worsened and Ian’s wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had begun treatment. These sad bits of news came as a poignant reminder of the valuable work of Hospiscare, who are caring for Claire’s mother.
For a while are plans were threatened by a strike of French air traffic controllers, but that was cut short just before we travelled. On our first attempt on a peak a sign warned that the track became very step, but what it did not say was that is was also very slippery because of mud, so after a bit of dangerous sliding around my wife Jude, Wes Down, BBC photographer Andy Johnstone and I beat a strategic retreat. Next day we set out for Le Brevent 2525m.(8284ft.) and reached the top in 3 1/4 hours, finishing up a snowfield on to a rock summit.
From the day of my diagnosis with bowel cancer I had planned this trip as symbol of recovery and I was delighted. On the way up we met an Australian palliative care nurse who worked with amputees as well as cancer patients, and she was thrilled to meet someone who was in both categories.
“Good on ya Norm” she said “Give us a hug”
Next day was wet and we again turned back on a small mountain, because of slippery rock, but the following day saw us on top of two hills of about 2300m.(7500 ft.), having climbed scree, a short way on rock and on an airy ridge with a track about two feet wide.
So twenty-one months after diagnosis, the job was done. It had been a tough adventure, with many lows to be faced as they arrived, but having an objective helped me through both physically and psychologically. We have partly via this site and events like music nights, a talk by me and a quiz night, raised about £5000, and there is more to come. And I hope to return to the Alps this September for a few higher and harder mountains.
Thanks to all who have helped, including donors, and particularly to Wes Down, who dealt with travel and accommodation, leaflets, banners and much much more.
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