A group of Iowans will partner with Charlie Wittmack, the first Iowan to climb Mount Everest, to climb part way up that mountain to highlight the personal battles they’ve had with cancer. They’re calling it “Above & Beyond: Cancer Survivors Trek to Everest.” Twenty-eight-year-old Brandon Sickler of Des Moines is a leukemia survivor, and says those on the trip want to make a statement about beating cancer.
Sickler says they want to show people that cancer is “not an end all, but it’s just maybe a detour, a speed bump in life, but life keeps on going, and you can keep on pushing it.” Stickler says this adventure is also way for him to confirm he’s overcome his personal battles against the disease.
He says he let cancer win in his mental battles, and his physical fitness level after his cancer. Sickler says when he heard that a whole group of cancer survivors was training for the event, his mental barriers gave way. Sickler says he gained support from seeing what the others were doing.
“It was like, okay, if they can do it, I can do it, and I’ll train with them and I’ll run with them,” Sickler says. Pretty soon he says he was back in shape, and while he says he still has a ways to go to be in the best shape in his life, he is much closer to that goal. Sickler hopes the groups effort to climb the mountain will be an inspiration to others who face the same battles with cancer.
Sickler says it will show that “you can still go out and do magnificent things, and challenge yourself and push yourself to new limits.” He says it will show the public that has never experienced cancer that survivors can still go out and do anything they put their minds to. The cancer survivors will head up the mountain to the south base camp at an altitude of over 18,000 feet. The trip will take 10 days going up and four days coming back down.
The group begins the trek up the mountain on April sixth. Several cancer fighting organizations are sponsoring the trip along with the partnership with Wittmack. Wittmack is in the midst of what he calls a World Triathlon Adventure which will culminate in his ascent to the summit of Mt. Everest. You can see more about the cancer survivors adventure on Wittmack’s website at: www.theworldtri.com.
Some of the other Iowans involved in the cancer survivor event are: Justin Anderson of Clear Lake; Theresa Britt of Ankeny; Gail Endres of Milo; Linda Hoskins of Albia; Trace Kendig of Adel; Karen Parman of Colfax; Peggy Jo Scott of Adel; Lynne Vestal of Clive, Kathy Wennihan of Des Moines.