Mountains, Metaphors & Breast Cancer on Kilimanjaro

Retreat alumna Deirdre is climbing a mountain for a cause. A BIG mountain. I asked her to be a guest blogger to tell you about it. As she gears up for this big event, we are gearing up for our 2015 retreat season, which as always kicks off with the Cowgirls vs. Cancer retreat. Through C vs C, we are proud to be sponsoring Deirdre to come train with us in Big Sky before she hits Kilimanjaro, on our late July Yoga & Advanced Hiking retreat (only ONE spot left if you’d like to join us!).

up a mountain such as Kilimanjaro seems like a novel idea. It provides metaphor. Much to everyone’s
surprise (because let’s face it, the family likes it when I’m in the kitchen
and the boss like it when I’m at my desk), I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in
Tanzania, Africa. My climb is in
partnership with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, to raise funds
for their CLIMB breast cancer research program. Generous friends have helped me
raise over $13,000 for the research. I
am placing something big, something for others and something for me in the way
of the status quo. The laundry can
 The list of friends and
family with cancer has grown much
too long over time and now that two more my close friends have breast
cancer, I am committing to paying it forward and honoring their efforts. I know that as with cancer for them, this
grand mountain in Eastern Africa doesn’t care about my success, nor my reaching
the summit, nor in my survival. But nevertheless, the mountain provides
tremendous ground on which to assemble my gear, my support team, and my hopes
and intentions for a clean trek.

I helped and watched this last year as my dear friend Shauna approached
breast cancer with tremendous courage. I know her climb back toward a clean
bill of health required extreme diligence, planning, perseverance, support and
trust. At times, she made it look easy
and that was incredibly inspiring.

(Our mantra at right: “Yes, Darlin’ You Can”.)

As a gift
from our dear friend, Aubrey, last June Shauna and I celebrated the end of her
radiation and chemotherapy treatment at LUXE Cowgirl Yoga. The experience offered amazement, challenge
and pure glee. I saw my childhood friend
– a bit weakened by chemo, medication and surgery – climb on her horse and ride
mountain paths, pace herself through rigorous Ashtanga yoga, languish in
restorative yoga, and laugh her way into the beautiful Montana evenings with
new friends and delicious, nurturing meals. She motivated and encouraged me – as usual! While I have practiced yoga for years, I
hadn’t ridden a horse outside of a National Park nose-to-nose trail ride in many
years, but trusting the process became my mantra. And by the retreat’s end,
Picasso, a sturdy, stubborn Paint, and I had realized a sound relationship. I was on his team, he was on mine. We made it up to the snow line and back down to the trailer in one piece. I do believe it will be the same with this mother of a mountain in
Africa. There is training to do, incredible
trust needed and indeed a metaphor in play: it is that I can do this if I try – I can make this climb if I commit and train. Each of us can make things happen when we trust in the process and the changes
it may bring to our daily life, no matter how challenging. And with prayer flags lovingly addressed (and
packed) for all those I know fighting or experiencing cancer, I am so excited
for each and every day preparing for my goal of being atop Mount Kilimanjaro.    

Yeehaw & Namaste.