School is back, the nights are getting a little chilly (depending on where you live), and we at RealTime Cancer are crazy busy preparing for our biggest and most significant community event, the RealTime Cancer Climb.
Would you believe this is the sixth Annual Climb? I have trouble recognizing that sometimes, but that is the case. It all started with very modest beginnings. I had just started RealTime Cancer a few months earlier when I decided that I wanted to remember a milestone of my progress as I continued recovering from treatment and ICU after my first transplant. That milestone was #5 on the list below: my first unaided steps after ICU. As a survivor of two cancer challenges, I have buckets of dates that connect to something significant happening in my life. A small sample:
1. November 9, 1998: I was officially diagnosed with leukemia.
2. April 13, 1999: I had my first transplant from my dad.
3. July 25, 1999: I entered hospital with an infection that tried really hard to kill me, but it didn’t succeed!
4. August 23, 1999: I woke from my coma after three-and-a-half weeks on life support.
5. September 20, 1999: After merely three weeks of working out (i.e. doing pull-ups in my hospital bed at home and walking with my walker), I took my first unaided steps since leaving ICU.
6. April 13, 2000 and 2001: Anniversaries of my first transplant.
7. July 20, 2001: Relapse.
8. October 10, 2001: Second transplant.
9. October 10, 2002, 2003, 2004: Second transplant anniversaries.
10. December 31, 2004: Hitched. How could I forget that one?
#5 has evolved into the most public of the short list as we’ve created a RealTime Cancer event around it. The thing about the Climb which makes it extra special for me is that it’s not about my anniversary anymore.
So what is the Climb about? Well I can only answer that for me. First and foremost, it is about miracles and the “never quit” spirit. As most of you know, I am a living miracle. If you don’t believe in them, then we must meet, because if there was no such thing, I’d be moved on to the next phase.
I also happen to have determination and a support network of family and friends that was all about “never quitting” when I was in ICU in 1999. The Climb is also about young adults (those young at heart are also welcome!). It is another way RealTime Cancer communicates our core message of “positive attitude,” but in a more subliminal way.
Each year you’ll find that the average age of climbers is about 18 which suits us perfectly. The community is always welcome but our focus for the Climb is to get young adults (high school, post-secondary students and graduates) out. Young adults are our people, they are the reason we’re here, and we love having them involved in our organization.
RealTime Cancer is a registered charity, we raise money to deliver programs to help young adults deal with cancer and the Climb is a huge contributor to both community awareness of our organization and to our bottom line. In fact, since 2000 we’ve had over 2,400 Climbers participate and raised over $70,000 at just the St. John’s Climb alone! Those are big numbers in the world of RealTime Cancer, but even more significant is the void we are here to fill.
The fact that there is no national cancer organization focused on young adults is inexcusable and intolerable for me. And when I find something so reprehensible, I usually try to do something about it. That is why RealTime Cancer’s mission is not only important, it’s essential.
How do you get involved? If you are interested to Climb there are two ways you can participate. Download a pledge page from our site or show up the day of the Climb and register.
If you aren’t able to be with us on Signal Hill but still want to help, you can do that by sponsoring a Climber, or going online and sponsor me on my ascent up Signal Hill!
Last year I raised over $1,300 through my online pledge page, which was a solid contribution to the event so this year I figured I’d bump it up a little. My target is to raise $2,146, which works out to be a dollar for every day since I was diagnosed in 1998. I’d love your help in reaching that goal just as many of you helped last year. Count on hearing from me again soon with a Climb update.
Live life. Love life.