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Caroline George Climbs for Life with the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation
Posted on September 27, 2011

By Caroline George

When the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation was created by Sean Patrick back in 2001, people told her that there was no way she would raise a cent for ovarian cancer through climbing. Although Sean passed away last year, she saw her vision through, and it is because of that vision that I was humbled to be a part of the Climb4Life event this past weekend in Salt Lake City.

HERA’s mission is to “Stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research, Awareness.” HERA was created when Sean was recovering from her seventh ovarian cancer surgery. She believed that rock climbing would put a new face on ovarian cancer and get more people involved: “The skills women learn in climbing—problem solving, risk taking, and confidence in their decision making—will enable them to climb all the mountains in their lives,” Sean said.

The HERA foundation puts together different fundraising events throughout the year and Climb4Life is one of them (biking, hiking, running, etc. are other events). Eighty-five percent of the money raised goes to research, awareness, education, and community support. These events not only touch the lives of people suffering from ovarian cancer, but also those involved in the process.

This was my first time attending a Climb4Life event. I had heard of them for a long time but am usually working overseas in September, and the timing had never worked for me. Instead, I would sponsor a participant to somehow be a part of it all. I ended my guiding season early in the Alps this year and was back in Salt Lake City—my hometown when I’m in the USA—in time for the event. It meant all the more to me to be a part of it because being pregnant made me realize how fortunate I was to be healthy. I have never been close to an ovarian cancer patient, but through this event I learned a lot: Ovarian cancer is relatively asymptomatic, so by the time it is detected, it is at an advanced stage. These statistics speak for themselves: “There are 21,880 new cases of ovarian cancer annually in the U.S. and 13,850 fatalities. This should be compared to breast cancer—207,090 new cases and 39,840 fatalities. From these statistics you can appreciate how ovarian cancer is a much more lethal disease.”

People from all spectrums of life get involved in Climb4Life, from cancer researchers, to athletes, guides, people who have been affected by cancer in one form or another, or not at all. Participants raise money for the event and get to climb all day in beautiful Little Cottonwood or Big Cottonwood canyons, challenging themselves, but also sharing stories and meeting other participants. In the evenings, everyone meets back up for slideshows, movies, talks on ovarian cancer research, and dancing until late into the night. This year, the participants of the HERA Climb4Life event raised $63,000. In past years, the sum has even exceeded $100,000.

This is by far the most inspiring cause I have worked for and I hope that in my own way (writing a blog, teaching clinics), I can promote HERA and indirectly help those who suffer from this disease.

As Jessica Kinghorn, the HERA climb for life coordinator, wrote in her blog: “Just because the event itself is over, our job is not ‘done.’ Please keep working to raise funds for HERA now and throughout the year. Here’s an idea you can do soon: Do you give gifts to business clients at the holidays? Pick three worthy causes to donate to (HERA being one of them) and let your clients choose which organization to donate to. Sure, it’s your money going to HERA, but you were going to buy them that lame pen anyway, right?”

Author: - Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
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