In February 2013 at age 22, my brother Stephen began experiencing numbness and tingling in his legs. This feeling had been preceded by discomfort and pain located squarely in the middle of his back. As the numbness and tingling swiftly grew to an inability to walk, he visited an emergency clinic, where an MRI revealed a mass on his thoracic spine. After a whirlwind 24 hours - punctuated by a 9-hour surgery to remove the mass and replace the affected vertebrae with a metal cage - he was resting and recovering in the neurological ICU. Within a week, he had the biopsy results - Ewing's sarcoma, a rare and very aggressive bone cancer that had eaten away T6 and part of T7. Treatment was begun rapidly - an infusion cycle of chemo, followed by a trip to an inpatient rehab facility, then another infusion cycle. His cycle count would total 17 over the next 13 months, with 2 months of proton radiation therapy thrown in for good measure. In April 2014, he received the fantastic news that he was in remission.
Ever since April, Stephen has thrown himself into physical therapy and retraining his body to be strong and fit. As he began to walk normally again for the first time in over a year - even confidently getting back into the driver's seat of a car - his physical therapist mentioned a foundation called Climb For Cancer. Every year, this foundation hosts an expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro - where 14 - 16 climbers, many cancer survivors themselves, raise money via community donations for the foundation. They are tasked to raise at least $10,000 - $5,000 finances their trip, while the other $5,000 (and any amount beyond) goes directly to the foundation to further their mission of aiding cancer research and easing the suffering of those fighting the disease.
Stephen and I are reaching out to you to help him realize his goal - reach the summit of one of the most awe-inspiring peaks in the world, while simultaneously helping others in their fight against cancer. We hope that you find it in your heart to donate, or if you cannot, to share with your friends, family, and others that will find Stephen's journey and Climb for Cancer's mission inspiring.
The following picture is from his stint at the Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, in the summer of 2013:
To learn more about the foundation, please visit their website here!
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