Base Camp, that is. :) Still, it is a big challenge both physically and mentally, but it is all for a great cause: to help the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) raise funds for its building expansion project to enable it to treat more patients.
Mostafa Salameh first contacted me in May of 2012 with his idea of climbing from the lowest point on earth (Dead Sea) to the highest point on earth (Everest) to raise funds for KHCC’s building expansion program.
I felt honored to be chosen as a member of the team to do this, and excited for the opportunity to participate in something that would give back to one of the organizations I have worked closely with over the past few years. But as I read more of his message, I started feeling anxious, worried and a little bit scared. We were talking about a 2 – 3 week trip where we would be climbing up to the base camp of the highest peak in the world…
Firstly, I have a little bit, or maybe more than just a “little bit”, of a fear of heights. Every time I went hiking up hills which in comparison to where we are going, are tiny, I would freeze on the way up, and when I do reach the top and look down, I would begin to cry. I am not joking. I tried to get over this fear by paragliding over the snowy mountains of Switzerland; it helped a bit, but not much, though I did enjoy the views, the peace and the calmness of being so high up. So to go up to over 5,500 meters (or approximately 18,200 feet) is a bit “nerve wrecking” to say the least.
Secondly, I had never climbed a mountain, or anything higher than what may be considered as a hill. The highest altitude I had ever been was maybe 1,000 meters when I first tried skiing last year.
Thirdly, I was worried about how much exercise and training we needed to do to be in shape and to be ready for this challenge. I had been going to the gym but had been inconsistent at that point.
Lastly, when I learned more about the effect of altitude on people, how there would be less oxygen and the possibility of getting altitude sickness, it definitely worried me! Another fear that I have (and I think any sane person might have!) is the inability to breathe. Being up there with much less oxygen makes any activity more tiresome, and your brain doesn’t know what is going on so it is working hard to process the current situation, making it difficult to sleep. Altitude sickness is basically the swelling of the brain, and if not treated right away (best way is to descend or to take Diamox), can be fatal. To top it all off, I am allergic to Diamox!
With a lot of my questions answered, and despite my fears, I decided to proudly be one of 21 Jordanians who will embark on this challenge and adventure, the main reason being that it is for a very worthy cause.
As I mentioned, I have interacted and worked with the KHCC over the years, and I know how challenging it is for them to raise funds. Treating cancer is very expensive, from the equipment to the medicine, to having proper hospital accommodation that separates patients since their immune system is weak, and they cannot afford infecting other patients with any sicknesses they have. From all the NGO’s I have been involved with, KHCC has the biggest challenge; their current center is always at full capacity with only 170 beds, and there is far greater demand than they can currently accommodate. This unfortunately means that many patients have to be placed on a waiting list before they can receive the life-saving cancer treatment that they need.. KHCC treats around 3,500 patients, and receives more than 100,000 outpatient visits a year. They are now raising funds to build an expansion to their facilities, which will enable them to accommodate more patients in a comfortable and safe environment by adding 182 more beds and therefore accepting approximately 5,500 more patients a year. This project costs US$ 145 million and our contribution of hopefully raising US$1 million is but a small contribution from our side to help them raise awareness and raise funds for this worthwhile project.
Lastly, accepting to be part of this climb is a personal challenge on many fronts. It is a physical challenge in being disciplined in training and preparation, on continuing and actually doing the trek and enduring all that comes with it. Mostly, though it is a mental and emotional challenge to overcome my fear of heights, in believing that the mind is stronger than the body, in looking at the world through different eyes, in living in the moment and enjoying every step of the way with the beauty of nature, people, and life surrounding me. It is a challenge in once again going beyond my comfort zone, disciplining and believing in myself to complete this challenge, and in freeing my mind and soul in the process.
There are many ways you can support us:
1) Donations – donations of any amount are welcomed, and you can contribute via our pledge page: http://www.cancerpledges.com/SelectPledge.aspx?P_ID=35
2) Prayer Flags – we have now almost sold out of the small prayer flags that are selling for USD 50 or JOD 50, but we have added slightly larger ones which are selling for USD 100 or JOD 100. If you would like to donate that amount, you can do so via the pledge page link as well, and send me the message you would like to write on the flag, whether it is a prayer, a quote, the name of a loved one you lost, or even a wish. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Concert – one of our talented team members, Talal Abu Ragheb, will be performing a musical concert on the night of March 2 at 7:30 at the IAA. Tickets are sold for JOD 30, and all proceeds go to the KHCC. You can contact me or anyone else from the team for your tickets.
4) Bracelets – we are selling affinity bracelets for JOD 2 with our team logo and “I can make a difference” on them, also sold by most team members
5) Corporate Sponsorship – If you are a company that would like to be the sole sponsor of one of the team members (with all funds going straight to KHCC of course), you can do so for JOD 25,000 and have your logo be the only one on the team member’s jacket. If you don’t mind sharing logo space, we have a proposal and different price points for you. Please contact me or any member of the team for more info.
6) Events – if you have an upcoming event through which you would like to support our cause, please contact me
7) Spreading the word – the more people know what we are trying to achieve, the more awareness we spread not just about our cause, but about the KHCC. Please help us spread awareness.
I want to thank all my friends and those who have supported us thus far, and ask you to please continue supporting us by spreading the word, donating and by cheering us on.