Cancer: uniting us all…
Yesterday was an intense day to say the least. I have spent quite a bit
of time in Nepal over the years, living, working, studying, and
teaching as well as climbing. And, in those times, I have come face to
face with the myriad of misfortunes that befall so many people in this
Himalayan kingdom: leprosy, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition,
abuse, and the cumulative effects of extreme poverty.
But, yesterday was the first time I visited cancer wards in Nepal, and it was an eye opener.
On some level, the other ailments mentioned above cause certain angst
and sympathy, making even the hardest of hearts soften, even the
tightest of wallets loosen a bit. But, they are also distant for most
of us. As fortunate members of the relatively affluent West, diseases
like leprosy are distant, are not something we encounter often, if at
But, cancer is different. There are few if any worldwide who have not
felt the effects of cancer in their lives: friend, family, cousin,
uncle, brother, sister, mother. Cancer touches us all, regardless of
our skin color, our religion, or our geographic location. It is, in
many ways, a tragic equalizer, a horrific disease which ties us all
together in some way.
But, of course, it only equalizes in some ways. Even the might of
cancer does not level the economic playing field, nor subsequently the
And this was more than evident as we visited the Kanthi Childrens and
Bhaktapur Cancer Hospitals yesterday in the Valley. Throughout the
pediatric oncology ward at Kanthi, doctors struggled to save young
lives with rudimentary equipment and paltry funds in harrowing
conditions. Likewise, at Bhaktapur, Dr. Bharal works tirelessly to
combat the disease ravaging his many patients, young and old.
As I watched James Chippendale – himself a cancer survivor – visit the
patients, talk to the doctors, and laugh with the children, I could see
his passion and dedication grow along with his understanding of the
magnitude of the problem facing Nepal.
James, Shannon, and Everest Rocks are more committed than ever to help change the face of cancer treatment here in Nepal.
It is an exciting and trying time, but to know that lives will be
changed through our activities here…well, that makes all the
– Jake Norton is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker from Colorado.