I’ve always loved mountains! The first mountains I ever saw as a child were in Scotland where we went on camping holidays. In teenage years we visited the Alps where whole ranges of snow-capped mountains dominated the landscape. They impressed me then and they still do today.
On a recent trip to Scotland, my daughter and I were climbing a mountain where we experienced both the joy of the breathtaking view and the danger of taking a wrong path. We were ill-equipped for climbing to the height we did. The clue should have been when we reached the snow line! Imagine our joy when we spied two climbers a little way above us who helped us out with advice as to where we were and took us back to the path. They also kindly shared their food and drink with us which gave us added energy to get back down. I’m sure they might have been angels in disguise!
Mountains have also featured as a metaphor in my life for tough times; spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual challenges. From the sudden death of my mother and our young son’s life-threatening illness, to running my first half-marathon and writing my Masters thesis – these have all been ‘mountains’ to climb.
And now it’s time to climb Everest! That is the phrase that ran through my mind the night after I was diagnosed with cancer. Only a few weeks ago I went to my GP thinking I had some infection or gastric problem only to find out in a few short days that it was far more serious – ovarian cancer. From that moment on, I have experienced a whirlwind of emotions! The medical care I have been receiving I can only describe as more than excellent! I’ve had blood tests, scans, a keyhole biopsy and the first round of chemotherapy is nearly upon me.
I say Everest as that is how it feels – HUGE, the biggest mountain ever!! But just as climbers of that great mountain never climb alone, so I am not alone. My faith in God is core to my life. I know God is here alongside me in this and I can truly say that the peace I have right now is overwhelming. My amazing family, friends and church family have all been superstars! Their love, care and prayers for me have been carrying me along.
I am reading Bear Grylls book ‘Facing Up’ which tells his story of climbing Everest. He describes the first step as getting to Base Camp. That is where the equipment is checked and they begin to acclimatise themselves to the altitude. That’s where I feel I’m at right now – Base Camp. I’m acclimatising myself to a new language and meeting new people. Alongside the wonderful doctors and specialist nurses, I have been meeting others with cancer too.
Without even knowing it perhaps, the courage they are showing in their journeys has given me courage. My world has been changed in a moment but I also know that I’ve climbed ‘mountains’ before and reached their summits, and I fully intend to conquer this one too!