Updated: Sep 30, 2020
I went on a significant hike. Significant in distance. Significant to my soul.
My sister and I hiked to the top of the mesa at Tent Rocks. It was 660 feet to the top. This is equal to 58 stories and is 220 feet higher than the Giant Pyramid of Giza. This fat girl had her work cut out for her. I was terrified that I would not make it to the top. I was afraid that my body would not support me to make the journey. I was worried that mentally I would give up too soon. To live in fear is exhausting. I am sick of being exhausted. I wanted to take this pilgrimage to prove to myself that cancer can't take everything away from me. That I can live with cancer and still do some bad ass stuff. That even with all the weight I am gaining; it is not going to stop me from living my best life.
This was probably one of the hardest things that I have ever done. We left at our car at 8 am. People on the internet said to plan for a 2 hours round trip. That some of the trip would be a bit strenuous and"get your heart pumping," but the view would be worth it. Well, don't believe everything you read on the internet. Maybe there should have been asterisk for the heavy set crowd or someone whose 20-30 min daily walk on flat ground would not be sufficient prep for an upward climb at an already high altitude. I am a total glutton for punishment.
I really wanted to accomplish this feat, as a women living with stage 4 breast cancer. I could not think of anyone else to do this trek with but my sister. She was not judgmental and allowed me to set the pace. I told her that I did not want any help, that I wanted to make it to the top by myself. Prove to myself that I could do it! It started out as lots of fun. Many shenanigans and our own #nailed it moments. I am so glad that we took the time on the way up to enjoy nature and each others' company. I was not thinking about cancer. I was living in the moment. As the weather started heating up and the climb was getting to be more of an up hill battle I began to feel exhausted. Rest breaks were more frequent. Deep breathing. Willing my heart rate to come back to something even a tiny bit more normal.
There was probably 3 to 4 times that I thought, "This is good enough. I can't take this. I can't go any farther." Then I would remember the last year and at times after chemo I would think, "I am so sick. I feel like crap. I can't take this. I can't go any farther. But I did take it. I kept going back and allowing them to put poison in my body to kill the cancer. I am tough. I am a warrior. I can do it! And so I did. With plenty of water, plenty of rest breaks, I made it to the peak of Tent Rocks. Thank goodness for my sister. She was a huge cheerleader. So patient with me and all the breaks and encouraging me to keep going. Initially, she was the leader to tell me what to look out for. Then as my legs began to feel like lead she followed behind to catch me if I was going to fall.
The view from the top was amazing. You could see for miles and miles. All the beautiful mountains. There are SO many pictures we took and they don't show the depths of how high we were, the vivid colors we saw and how hard this climb really was. The pain was worth it. Finishing something that terrified me was worth it. It parallels my cancer journey. Right now, I am dancing with NEAD and I look okay on the outside but it does not show how much I've had to overcome both physically and mentally. The hike made me realize that I am stronger than I thought and more capable than I imagined and that cancer is not going to stop me or slow me down. There were so many joy filled moments on the way up. Taking silly pictures, goofing off and then it got harder and harder and harder at times I just wanted to give up but the reward at the end was that much sweeter. Don't give up.
At the top, while I sat on a rock catching my breath, I thought that this journey.... Climbing the mesa resembles my journey with cancer. That even though living with cancer is hard you can find joy filled moments in the little things and big things; like climbing a fricking mountain. It also proved to myself that being a heavy women I can still do amazing things with this body that God has given to me. Keeping this blog post completely real; it took us 4 hours to complete this trek. I am not gonna lie, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had to take many rest breaks. I thought I was going to pass out from heat exhaustion as it felt like it was 100 degrees under the sun. Through it all my sister was my rock. She made sure I got off that mountain without messing my pants.
I don't know if there are enough words or even pictures to explain how deeply this trip moved me to the depth of my soul. I praised God for the cool bits of shade to rest in and for the light breeze that would come along at just the right moment when I thought I couldn't keep going. That is how this cancer journey has been. Little messages from God telling me to keep persevering. I am so grateful that my sister and I have had this time together. This climb was one of my best days ever, at the same time it was one of my hardest days ever. At the end of the hike I thought I might pass out from heat exhaustion or have a heat stroke. But I didn't and I am so proud of myself for finishing the journey. I can do anything!
Hike until your heart might burst See the sun peering over the mountains Realize that we are so small God's grace is real Life is precious Cancer will not stop me from the climb. ~Katie