A couple of years ago I started getting a growth on my lower right leg. I did not think much about it because I thought I was healthy enough that it would eventually heal and go away. I was and still am eating a macrobiotic diet and I was doing a lot of hiking, as you can see by the pictures posted on this site. In the summer of 2009 I was training to climb Mt Whitney, 14,493´, for the second time and about two months before going the growth on my leg started getting painful and growing aggressively. I was so into making this climb that I ignored the fact that I should have gone to a doctor. I did not want anything to get in the way of climbing this great mountain. I started taking Tylenol to keep the pain down. By the time I did the climb I was taking Tylenol about 4 to 6 times a day. When I got back home the pain was getting to the point that I thought it was time to go see a doctor. I went to a dermatologist and had a biopsy done. A couple of weeks later, on my birthday, I received a call from my doctor and was told that I had Squamous cell carcinoma. Well, needless to say, that was not the birthday gift I was looking for. I then went to three doctors, one was a specialist in Squamous cell carcinoma, one was the radiation oncologist and the other was the surgeon. The radiation oncologist and the surgeon said there was a possibility that they would have to take my leg, of course I told them that that was not possible, I would not allow that, I would just have to get better. So in October I started 5 weeks of radiation and 2 sessions of chemo. The doctors wanted to get the growth down so that I could have surgery to remove the cancer. Well I must have had some great doctors because about two months after the chemo and radiation I had my surgery and it turned out to be very successful. The surgeon who did the surgery was Dr Anna Kulidjian. She did such a beautiful job that within a month I was back on the trails. By summer I was back in the Sierra Nevada Mountains hiking up 14,000’ mountains. I owe a lot to my doctors, especially Dr Anna Kulidjian. Now it is my turn to give back, so I have joined Dr Kulidjian and her husband Ara to be part of the “Climb Kili with Us”.
We will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in August of 2011 to bring awareness to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. So, please help us help the Maasai people through donating to this cause so we can raise enough money to buy an ambulance for the MWCT health clinic. By raising $50,000 we can get the Maasai to the clinic on time, most of them walk for hours to get there, as there is no available means of transportation, and villagers are spread across the 280,000 acres of Maasai land. The ill and young often die without the ability to get to the clinic. The doctor has no means to get to birthing mothers in time, and patients with traumas have no way to get to the hospital. Dr Anna Kulidjian and her husband Ara, who were at the clinic helping last summer, have expressed to me how they felt compelled to help the Maasai organize their health care using the simple principles we have come to expect in modern medicine. The doctor of the clinic feels the ambulance could save the lives of the most vulnerable patients – children, pregnant women and the elderly – and help traumas get to the hospital in time.
I am asking all of you, my friends, and new friends to be, to donate so we can raise the money we need for the ambulance. This is only the beginning of what we can do together to make a difference! Thank you for reading my story, hope it was not too long!
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