My husband Mike and I dreamed of climbing Kilimanjaro for our 30th wedding anniversary and his 60th birthday in October 2020. With the onset of Covid we were forced to postpone our trip to October 2021. Then we were blindsided by Mike's cancer diagnosis in April of 2021. They found a tumor on his ureter incidentally during a work up for a hernia repair. Biopsies and procedures followed; all of which culminated in a risky, six hour robotic surgery to remove the tumor and repair the ureter.
We were lucky that the amazing surgeons who worked on him were able to remove it, but it was stage III with a positive lymph node. Being a rather rare cancer, we only found limited information about what to expect for our future. What little information we found did not sound favorable. What all the surgeons and oncologists could agree on was Mike was getting chemotherapy with the hope that it would prevent any recurrence or spread.
Our plans to travel seemed insignificant compared to the journey before us. My active and fit husband who ran marathons, hiked 14,000 ft mountains including Mt. Whitney spent months recovering from surgery, getting scans and grieving the loss of his health and lifestyle.
After many tears, arguments and sleepless nights we both made the decision to carry on with our lives as planned. We have no control over what the future holds, but we have right now. We talked with Mike's oncologist about what it would take to make it to the summit of Kilimanjaro this October after receiving four rounds of chemotherapy. Mike's oncologist didn't discourage us as I had thought he would. He pointed out several instances of athletes who went on to win races during and after chemotherapy.
Our trip was already booked and paid, so we just said "lets do it". Once we put the word out that we were going to give it a try, we received an onslaught of support. The support we have received has given us a renewed hope and faith. Mike and I now want to share his journey to the Kilimanjaro summit with the hope it can bring hope and healing to others. We also would like to fundraise for the American Cancer Society to help fight cancer and bring awareness to urothelial carcinoma of the ureter.
Lets rid the world of cancer!