Cancer survivors climb Mt. Fuji; After months of planning, local group reaches the top
On Monday, Aug. 21, Truckee residents Laurie Martin, Windy Smith, Janet Brady and Lois Fletcher joined more than 200 other Japanese and American climbers to conquer Japan’s 12,388-foot Mt. Fuji in the name of breast cancer and other related illnesses.
“To do this journey to the top of the mountain is to set aside the pressures and stresses of daily life and focus on the mountain and the inspiration that that gives me,” Martin said before the climb.
Before reaching the summit of Japan’s most famous mountain, the 150 Japanese, 60 U.S. climbers and their supporters and family members spent Monday night just below the summit to adjust to the high altitude. They reached the top early Tuesday morning, Aug. 22, just in time to see the sunrise, or goraiko. (Goraiko originates from a religious term denoting “seeing the Buddha,” but now refers to the sunrise seen from the top of Mt. Fuji.)
The climbers are breast cancer patients, survivors and advocates as well as Japanese physicians, scientists and government officials.
The four women who make up the Truckee-Tahoe Mt. Fuji team (part of The Breast Cancer Fund’s Climb Against the Odds 2000 expedition) each have had their own journey with breast cancer and this climb symbolized their dedication to breast cancer prevention and awareness. Martin was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and completed her radiation treatment on March 13 of this year.
Smith lost her aunt, Phyllis Heiderman, to breast cancer three years ago. Smith is also proactive in women’s health issues and works as the Health Promotions Coordinator for Tahoe Forest Hospital.
For Fletcher and Brady, preparing for the climb was about the inspiration shared between mother and daughter.
Fletcher, 68, was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and is a breast cancer survivor. Brady, Director of Health Promotions for TFH, has been surrounded by breast cancer all her life: her aunt was diagnosed with it at an early age, her grandmother died from it and mother is a recent survivor.
“I’m learning you can achieve these things even when you’re 68 years old,” Fletcher said before leaving for Japan. “I’m just going to give it my 100 percent all, and I’ll go as far as the Lord takes me. My goal, though, is certainly to get to the top.”
The team is expected to return to Truckee by next week.
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