I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition national conference the last weekend of April. Prior to arriving I knew I would receive valuable education about weight management, sport specific education, body composition, supplements and more, but I definitely was not excepting to be tearing up in the first key note presentation conducted by Dr. Richard Deming, founder and doctor for the public charity organization called Above + Beyond Cancer. Starting in 2011, Dr. Deming and 15 caregivers (including 1 yoga instructor) decided to take 14 cancer survivors to Mt. Everest base camp. The trip would take approximately 7 days to reach the top and involve weeks of training leading up to their departure. Deming was pretty comical explaining how his group of survivors trained the “hills” of Des Moines, Iowa—obviously reaching extremely high altitudes.
Each survivor was highlighted during his presentation as to what type of cancer they experienced, number of years, months, days of remission, number of relapses, and more (this was the part where I noticed sniffles in the room). He passionately described what it was like as they hiked up Mt. Everest TOGETHER. One woman was nearly blind from radiation, the breast cancer survivor whom became her staff, the caregiver who experienced severe GI issues and needed the care of his wife whom was a cancer survivor (the first time she felt she took care of her husband in 8 years), and the other members who leaned on one another to reach the top.
There were several messages I took away from Dr. Deming’s speech, but I quickly realized these individuals redefined what had been their “baggage” for months, years, or decades. They all had something in common. Their seasons of suffering brought them all together and allowed them to do something amazing. Climbing to the Mt. Everest base camp was like a metaphor—the backpack they had to carry up the mountain was like baggage their cancer had brought to their life. Mt. Everest was the journey. Mt. Everest was the constant battle, taking step by step, savoring the victories (big or small) and sharing life with their support system. They all redefined their baggage into something literally “Above + Beyond Cancer.” Their baggage became something much bigger than themselves. What is your baggage and how can you redefine it for your life?