Reaching New Heights Through the Climb to Fight Cancer Expedition

June 7, 2022

Earlier this year, I embarked on the journey of a lifetime and participated in a 17,600-foot climb through the Himalayas to the Mt. Everest Base Camp as part of the Climb to Fight Cancer Expedition.

Climb to Fight

Earlier this year, I embarked on the journey of a lifetime and participated in a 17,600-foot climb through the Himalayas to the Mt. Everest Base Camp as part of the Climb to Fight Cancer Expedition. On this 17-day hike, I was accompanied by 18 incredible mountaineers, cancer survivors, first-time climbers and other members of the biotech/pharmaceutical community. Through our shared passion for advancing life-saving cancer research, we collectively raised over $1.3 million for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center located in Seattle, Washington.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Since 1997, Fred Hutch’s Climb to Fight Cancer, benefiting the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has sought to “cure cancer one mountain at a time.” For nearly 25 years, climbers around the world have tackled some of the most difficult terrains and summited some of the world’s highest peaks to raise money for cancer research and honor patients and loved ones. To date, these climbers have raised an astonishing $11 million for critical cancer research.

3-Year Long Process

Nearly 10 million people die each year from cancer - and while we’ve made a great deal of progress in the quest toward cures over the past decade, we’ve got a way to go before we reach the “summit.” It’s with this in mind that I signed up to represent Servier in a Climb to Fight Cancer Expedition, which was originally scheduled for March 2020. As a result of the pandemic, our trip was rescheduled, then canceled, and then rescheduled again for March 2022. While I was eager to start the expedition, this gave me plenty of time to perfect my training program, which included intense strength, cardio and endurance training. Although preparing for the trek was mentally and physically challenging, the greatest stamina challenge I faced during my training regimen stemmed from the odd stares and looks from fellow gym-goers as I worked out with a loaded backpack!

Everest base camp trek route mapThe Hike to Everest Base Camp

After a long wait, March 2022 rolled around, and following a 13-hour flight from France, and a brief stop in Kathmandu, I finally arrived in Lukla, Nepal, where we started our hike. Over the course of the next 17 days, we hiked over forested trails and hazardous suspension bridges, stayed in tea houses in the mountains and shared stories of what lead us to join Luke, our team captain, on this journey.

Along every step of the way, I thought of my mother, a 30-year cancer survivor, whose determination and perseverance have always been an inspiration to me. I also thought of my colleague’s son, Justin, a 22-year-old who won his battle against Hodgkin Lymphoma, along with cancer survivors everywhere: they are living proof that we are stronger together.

Reaching New Heights in the Fight Against Cancer

Although this was an ambitious feat, when we finally reached the summit, all I could think was that our hike was nothing compared to the steep challenges that cancer patients and their loved one’s face on a daily basis. I’m grateful to my friends and family, including my colleagues at Servier Pharmaceuticals, who supported me on this trek and helped support this important cause. Thank you so much to everyone who encouraged me and helped make this dream a reality, it was a beautiful and vivid reminder of the human spirit’s strength – to fight, to survive, to thrive.

olivier madec

To learn more about Climb to Fight Cancer Expeditions or how you can get involved, visit here.

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