Midway up the defeating ash box on Mount St. Helens in August, Barbara Travers noticed 19 contributors of her workforce already on the mountain’s summit. Travers, now 66, was once the second-to-last hiker and the second-oldest member of the crowd. Six hours into the climb, she was once exhausted and feeling the altitude.

She couldn’t pay attention her pals however knew they had been cheering for her; that encouragement gave Travers the spice up she had to make it to the mountaintop. As Travers neared the summit, a number of contributors rushed to greet her, and he or she broke down, understanding the magnitude of the instant: She was once on the most sensible of a volcano. 

It was once probably the most superb feeling I’ve ever felt,” she stated. “Virtually as just right as beating most cancers.”

Simply 16 months prior, the Kirkland resident was once present process a stem cellular transplant after seven months of induction chemotherapy to regard a couple of myeloma. Regardless of the invasive stem cellular remedy, which is able to call for two years for a complete restoration, Travers spent months coaching to climb Mount St. Helens and, on Aug. 10, was once one among 21 girls who climbed the mountain as a part of a fundraiser for Crew Survivor Northwest that raised just about $50,000. All however two of the ladies at the commute had been most cancers survivors, with an age vary that spanned from 42 to 66. 

Crew Survivor Northwest supplies well being and health training and sources to assist feminine most cancers survivors take keep an eye on in their bodily and emotional well-being. The group hosts workout categories, together with midweek mountaineering and health categories, plus a fundraising mountain climb each different 12 months, an annual health retreat and dragon boat racing. Individuals can sign up for at any level of remedy or restoration and get started at any health stage.


All over chemotherapy remedy, Travers expressed a want to discover a toughen workforce that went past speaking about most cancers. She sought after to be with individuals who understood what she was once going thru and sought after to concentrate on getting past most cancers. 

That’s when one among her nurses beneficial TSNW, explaining that its contributors had been a number of “badass girls who get out and do stuff.” 

On the time, the pandemic was once in complete swing, so Travers signed up for Zoom categories. Many months later, when organizers introduced this 12 months’s fundraiser hike would take on Mount St. Helens, Travers implemented. Up to now, mountaineering to Travers intended a lap round Inexperienced Lake.

This 12 months’s mountaineering workforce started coaching in Might, going for weekly hikes and step by step expanding distance and issue over the years. Coaching entailed the entirety from placing one foot in entrance of the opposite to energy and psychological coaching.

St. Helens hiker Susanna Ray, of Seattle, joined TSNW in February 2020, attending only one in-person match ahead of the pandemic close the entirety down. “I used to be so bummed as a result of I used to be in point of fact eager about attending to workout,” she stated. “At that time, I used to be nonetheless strolling with a cane.”

At 47 years outdated, she was once made up our minds to construct her energy. She attended categories 4 days every week and shortly was once in a position to stroll cane-free. 


Beating the percentages is not anything new to the Seattleite. When Ray was once recognized with level IV uterine most cancers, she was once given only a 10%-15% likelihood of constructing it to her fiftieth birthday. She grew to become 50 in September, over 3 and a part years after her analysis and the month after she climbed Mount St. Helens. It was once an extended street to the mountaintop.  

Somewhat over a 12 months after becoming a member of TSNW, Ray’s oncologist abruptly needed to take her off the medicine that was once protecting her alive. There was once no alternative.

“I take into account that I took the very final tablet on July 28, 2021, and felt totally untethered,” she stated. “I simply roughly stated to my frame, ‘OK, you want to be sturdy and you want to stay your cells in test and I’m going to do the entirety I will that will help you with that.’”

Workout, just right meals and taking care of her psychological and emotional well being served as Ray’s remedy. When TSNW introduced the St. Helens climb this previous spring, Ray idea, “I don’t know if I’ll make it, however I’ll take a look at.”

Ray had spent greater than 3 years depending on her husband to assist her with with regards to the entirety. However hikes with TSNW remodeled Ray from a “vulnerable level IV most cancers affected person who wanted assist with the entirety to a robust girl.” 

One night time this summer season, she had an epiphany after asking her husband for a tumbler of water: “I simply climbed Mount Si!” Ray recollects considering. “I will pass downstairs and get my very own water!” 


A couple of weeks later, as she stood on the summit of Mount St. Helens peering into its crater, Ray couldn’t assist however really feel attached to the volcano.

“We each had our our bodies explode, and he or she’s no longer the similar mountain and I’m no longer the similar user, however Mount St. Helens remains to be so gorgeous and now much more available to other people like me than she was once ahead of she erupted,” Ray stated. “I simply thought of some of these girls who had a identical enjoy as Mount St. Helens, and now we’re all sitting on her.” 

This 12 months’s mountaineering workforce consisted of 21 other people, together with seven volunteer guides. 

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“After I took this on, I didn’t notice how large it was once going to get,” stated Abbe Jacobson, a volunteer information and vp of the TSNW board. “It was once the most important climb we’ve accomplished with the biggest workforce of girls and probably the most sum of money ever raised.”

Jacobson, an ovarian most cancers survivor, was concerned with TSNW twenty years in the past, when she was once recognized with most cancers. Taking part within the climb was once her means of celebrating two decades cancer-free.

Jacobson felt crushed at her first retreat with TSNW years in the past. It was once a markedly other environment than a normal most cancers toughen workforce.

“There have been some of these girls who had been rowdy and having amusing, however we had all simply had most cancers,” she stated. “You pass to a toughen workforce and it’s kinda doom and gloom. [With TNSW], you’re no longer specializing in the most cancers, you’re transferring ahead and specializing in the speculation of feeling sturdy once more.”

A large number of research display that an ordinary aerobic and energy regimen can’t simplest assist save you some sorts of most cancers, however too can assist strengthen survival charges by way of as much as 50%, scale back melancholy and fortify the immune gadget.

“We have now a company trust that workout can trade other people’s lives after a analysis,” Jacobson stated. “Crew Survivor Northwest has many long-term survivors. I had a complete hysterectomy. It’s a miracle that I’m nonetheless strolling round this Earth and hiking mountains.”

Along with the time spent development staying power at the path, there also are hours spent speaking in combination, pairing bodily coaching with emotional therapeutic. 

“All of us knew everyone’s tale,” Travers stated. “If ever I might assume, ‘This user is such a lot higher than me as a result of she’s quicker,’ I might take into account that she went thru this, too. All of us knew what everybody had long past thru.”

In this adventure, Travers was once reminded of a quote she noticed when she was once first recognized. 

“It stated one thing to the impact of, ‘This mountain is installed entrance of you with the intention to assist others rise up it.’ I didn’t know what that intended till I summited Mount St. Helens,” she stated. “I were given most cancers, I went in the course of the remedy and I will assist folks.”

It seems hiking a mountain calls for placing one foot in entrance of the opposite, no longer not like combating most cancers.

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