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Posted on February 06 2016

I am participating in the CLIMB TO FIGHT Breast Cancer® to help raise awareness and funding for cancer research. I’m climbing for myself, a breast cancer survivor. I’m also climbing for my stepmother Deanna, my grandmother Betsy and everyone else who has been affected by this destructive disease.

Last year at the age of 62, I attempted to summit my first mountain: Mt. Baker. In 2016, I want to reach the top.

I have the courage to climb because I am a survivor. I have the courage because I am part of a team. My team includes the supporters at home, the researchers at the Fred Hutch, and my fellow climbers on the mountain.

I am raising money to support this climb because I want to help advance the research that made a difference in my treatment.

In March 2012, I was diagnosed with invasive, triple negative breast cancer. Plans for a new career in enology and viticulture were put on hold and I relocated with my daughter and her boyfriend to an apartment in Seattle for treatment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the University of Washington Medical Center. I had a double mastectomy followed by four months of chemotherapy, and then reconstructive surgery.

My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s. The only option at the time was a radical mastectomy, a procedure that left her disfigured and self-conscious. She survived for nearly 20 years. In 1972 she passed away at the early age of 64.

Triple-negative breast cancer affects only 10-20% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer. It can be aggressive and does not respond well to treatments for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers. I am grateful for the research that has initiated better and more effective treatment, which has brought the breast cancer survival rate to 98%. Research has paved the way for more choices and less disfiguring options for women diagnosed with breast cancer. But there is still much to be done.

I have made a commitment to raise donations by climbing mountains to save lives. This unique opportunity allows me to help ensure that breast cancer research continues.

Help me make this climb and together we can make a difference. Together, we can find a cure.
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