Breast Cancer Survivor – Antarctica

15 Oct 2012

Meet the breast cancer survivors from across the world who are heading to Antarctica to raise awareness of the disease

Twelve women, one challenge… but after what these ladies have been through trekking through, Antarctica is going to be a piece of cake. Each of these women have battled breast cancer and come out the other side stronger and more determined. And they are now set to show other women that there is life after breast cancer by taking a 14-day journey across one of the most perilous parts of the planet. With the help of personal trainer Julie Lewis of Mountain High, the Jewels of Antarctica team will be kayaking, snow shoeing and hiking through this frozen wasteland to help raise awareness of breast cancer and show that there is life after your diagnosis.

While their equipment can help them cope with the temperatures, the women need to train for the rigors of the trip itself. As well as gym sessions, circuit training classes as a group, power walks twice a week and daily cardio sessions, they also need to build the skills they need to use on the trip. Not only are they doing kayak training sessions, but they will also be camping overnight at Ski Dubai, as well as hiking up and down the slopes in their snow shoes to build up their legs and stamina levels.

Laurie Kelly, 48, Head of Marketing, USA

“I was first diagnosed when I was 44 through a mammogram. I had a lumpectomy and was clear, until December 2010 when another cancerous lump was found during a check-up. The first time I was diagnosed I felt very lucky that it wasn’t as bad as other women had it. The second time hit me the hardest, but I felt I had to do what I had to do and move on. With this trip I want to show my daughters you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Grace Edwards, 56, Midwife, British
“I was diagnosed with Stage 2 in 2007. I came to the UAE for a meeting and was offered a job to start the UAE’s first midwifery clinic, so I jumped at the chance. Through this trip I want to show people that there is life after cancer, and also to let people know how important it is to get checked. I was diagnosed twice and reassured I didn’t have it, but when I got a second opinion, I discovered I did have it. If you feel something’s wrong, get a second opinion.”

Morag Cromey-Hawke, 55, Executive Director, Scottish
“When I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, my children were my greatest motivation to staying positive. I could not bear the thought of not being there for my kids! I was determined to keep on working and not lose my sense of humour. When I met Julie from the Jewels of Antarctica I was captured by the initiative. I encourage women to be strong and never let it define you, we are not victims, we can deal with it and fight through it.”

Sarah Avis, 42, Writer, South African
“I first discovered I had breast cancer in 2003 and recovered three years later. Then in 2009, I relapsed again at stage 4 breast cancer. The second time I was in complete shock and it was a real psychological and emotional challenge. My husband was my rock. To help me overcome my fears, I started acquiring more knowledge to prove to myself that there is life after cancer. I hope to raise awareness of self examination and paying attention to any changes in the body.”

Jayne Battams, 52, Ex-Spa Manager, British
“I discovered I had stage 2 breast cancer when I first moved to Dubai five years ago. I had hope and believed I could overcome it and that’s what pushed me to fight for my life.  I choose to live everyday to its fullest. So when I attended a meeting at Emirates Towers and heard about the Jewels of Antarctica, I was inspired by the challenge and the ability to create awareness. I am excited for the trip and to enjoy the experience with my team mates.”

Frida Lobo, 39, Supply Chain Manager, Indian
“I had no family history of cancer, so when I was diagnosed I was in complete shock. However, once I absorbed the news I was determined to stay positive and fight for the sake of my family. I was blessed with a large support system, including my family, friends and colleagues at work. When I heard about the Jewels of Antarctica through a friend, I couldn’t wait to sign up. I am ready to start fresh with a new exciting challenge.”

Fatima Karriem, 49, Consultant, South Africa
“I found out I had breast cancer in 2005 during a routine exam. Luckily, the cancer was only Stage 1. I immediately started healing in my head: my breasts don’t define who I am. It’s been about six years of recovery. The process of healing has been the most phenomenal spiritual journey. I think it’s amazing how we as women wait for trauma to prioritise ourselves. I wish to take this trip as a journey of further self-discovery and show there is life after cancer.”

Linda Berlot, 45, Relationship Coach, Italian
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011 at a very early stage. I have a family history of breast cancer, so I had mammograms twice a year. The cancer they found was aggressive and had spread 3cm in a short time, but I was so lucky it was in its early stages. The aggressiveness resulted in me having a double mastectomy. What’s of prime importance is being proactive about our health – it can save your life, as it did mine.”