KUSA – When Sherry Erickson was first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2009, she was surprised. Erickson considered herself to be a healthy eater living an active lifestyle.
"The first thing that goes through your head is I'm gonna die," Erickson said. "It's interesting when you're going through an experience like this and when you first get a diagnosis how many people come up to you and want to tell you how many of their relatives have passed away."
Erickson endured chemo therapy and multiple hospital stays.
"Well, I've had seven surgeries, a different cancer came twice after the breast cancer," Erickson said. "I'm minus most of three ribs."
During all this time, Erickson says she still went skiing every weekend and even rode in a bike race three weeks after finishing chemo therapy.
"I was very stubborn. I still am," Erickson said. "That's why I'm gonna go climb Mount Shasta."
Mount Shasta is 14,179-foot peak in California that is more than just simple, long hike. Erickson is spending months training to make the three day trip to the summit while setting up base camp at 9,000 feet. Erickson is only a novice mountaineer.
"I actually learned how to rock climb after my surgery, after my chemo-therapy," Erickson said.
She is doing intensive weight training in the early morning combined with rock climbing in the afternoon to get ready to summit Mount Shasta.
"Endurance," Erickson said. "I am just going to have to go and go and be strong."
When she gets tired while trying to make her way to the peak, Erickson says there will be one thought that will guide her through.
"I think what will push me to the top is just thinking about all of the women right now and men who are going through breast cancer," Erickson said. "I want to show them that if I can do it, they can do it."
However, she is doing this for more than just a personal challenge. Erickson is part of an effort called Climb Against the Odds.
"This is my fifth year after my diagnosis and the climb is called, Climb against the Odds," Erickson said. "This is all about statistics. If you make it to five years, your odds go up."
She is trying to raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund, which is a non-profit dedicated to finding the environmental causes of breast cancer. She hopes to raise at least $10,000. If you want to find out more about her fund raising efforts, click here.
Erickson will travel to California on June 15 to begin her ascent on Mount Shasta. Erickson plans to prayer cards to the top inscribed with the names of breast cancer survivors.
"It's about the summit of the experience and hopefully, it's all downhill from there for all of us, so we never have to go through it again," Erickson said.
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