The first challenge!


The first challenge when climbing Everest is scaling the Khumbu Icefall. It is described as one of the most dangerous parts of the ascent. It is where the Western Cwm glacier of higher up

becomes a gushing river of frozen ice constantly moving at about one metre a day as it is squeezed through the mouth of the valley. Lord Hunt described it on his first ascent in 1953 as a sheer precipice, overhung with thick slices of blue ice more than 100 feet in depth, which peel off in massive slabs at intervals during each day!

My first challenge has been chemotherapy.  After two days at home where I was feeling relatively ok,  I crashed! Pain and sickness overwhelmed me and I ended up being taken into hospital by ambulance on the one snowy evening of the year! The paramedics were amazing! Turning a panicky situation into one of calmness and reassurance was one of their skills as well as swiftly doing the medical checks they needed to ascertain how ill I was. Once in hospital, the doctors found out that my gut had completely blocked up which was causing the severe pain. Unknown to me, this had been caused by the drugs I’d been taking to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy.

Over the next two days I didn’t get much rest as they worked to get my gut unblocked and functioning again! I watched a skilful team at work! Nurses looked after me whilst doctors and a very helpful pharmacist worked on a new drug regime.   Whilst I was in hospital, our son Sam and his wife Sarah, arrived from the USA with our new baby granddaughter. The trip had been planned long before any diagnosis but the timing was perfect. The next day I was able to join them at home and recuperated by having lots of cuddles with our newest baby – the best kind of therapy!!

What is interesting about climbing Everest is that the climbers have to keep ascending the mountain higher each time followed by descent back to Base Camp. This is in order to allow their bodies to slowly acclimatise to the altitude to give them the best chance of reaching the summit.  So they don’t just climb the Khumbu Icefall once! They do it over and over again! That’s what chemotherapy is like. I get through one cycle, recover some strength and then start again.

As I write, I’m just entering the second week of the second round of chemo. Last week was rough!! No ambulance trips to hospital this time for which I’m grateful, but I experienced a lot of pain from the chemo drugs themselves. I’m used to aching legs from long runs, but this was something quite different! This was nerve pain and no amount of stretching or massaging alleviates it! It was also accompanied by what I have heard described as ‘chemo tiredness’. It isn’t like usual tiredness. I felt energy literally draining out of me, a fog came over my brain and concentration disappeared. I crawled back into bed at those times and slept or dozed my way through the days.

Yesterday I felt my head start to clear! It was an amazing feeling to be able to think again and concentrate on a task!

IMG_8522Mine was to start a new jigsaw!! A kind friend had leant me one of theirs so it was a perfect way to get my brain working again! We do have a few jigsaw giants in our family including our 3 year old grandson, but with none in my house right now, I’ll have to see how far I get!

So back to Base Camp to start recovery ready for the next climb! For mountaineers, this is all a familiar way of making the ultimate goal even a possibility. I’m still learning the ropes but am slowly getting there!!

20 thoughts on “The first challenge!

  1. Wow Carole you’re going through all this and it seems you’re the one encouraging us..such words of wisdom.. Praying for strength and rest for you. Xxx

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  2. Thank you for update ..hoping whilst at base camp our heavenly father is pteparing you for your next climb. Jigsaws are so theraputic. Stay strong..Praying for you xx

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  3. Wonderful how you draw the parallel between climbing Everest and going back to base time and again and your journey. Made me think of how our relationship with God can be and how it can take time to change us and move us forward. The difficulties we encounter in our journeys can at times seem impossible yet God says ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’. His strength is ours. It sounds awful what you have so far been through. I wish I could hug you and hold you. I am also reminded of how some of the mums I work with go through similar things time and again in terms of their journeys – will my baby live – the ups and downs, the rollercoaster feelings, reaching the summit but the trials that go with it. Jesus’ journey to the cross must have contained lots of difficult emotions yet he was faithful. Your faithfulness, as I see with the mums I work with, gives me hope. You are an inspiration and God holds you in his hand. He loves you Carol so much. God bless you and fill you abundantly with his peace and strength.

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  4. Really amazing insight there mama, such a true picture of what you’re taking on each time. If the analogy is to continue, then have faith in the fact that you are being strengthened and prepared each time for the next stage. You are getting stronger as the cancer is smashed out of your body in Jesus name!! 😘

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  5. I empathize with you Carol….God’s strength is all we have at times like this…keep climbing girlie….your’ll make it….sending my love to you and Ian…xxxx

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  6. Laying here after surgery on my foot yesterday feeling sorry for myself as l hav to be on crutches for two weeks! Then l read your blog again and what a fraud l feel x Carole your positivity and faith are an inspiration to us all . Praying for you and yours. Much love gail x


  7. I am laying here after having surgery on my foot yesterday, feeling sorry for myself as l can’t work and have to be on crutches for two weeks!
    Then l read your blog and what a fraud l feel x Carole you are a true inspiration with your analogies on the experiences you’re facing head on and your strength of faith x l am returning back to prayer as a result of your blog and the love and faith in Christ.
    Sorry Carole it said my 1st reply hadn’t gone xx


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