About a year and a half after receiving her final radiation treatment for breast cancer, Lisa King is attempting something only a select few get to do in their lifetime: trek to Mt. Everest’s base camp.
King, a wife, mother and nurse, was 41 years old when her first mammogram detected cancer.
“My first thought was, ‘I can’t believe she’s joking. Who would kid about this? I don’t have cancer,’ ” King said. “Then my next thought was, ‘Of course she’s not joking. I have cancer? How can I have cancer? I’m young, I’m healthy. I take care of myself. There’s no way.’ ”
King had Stage 0 breast cancer, which involves cancer cells in the lining of the breast milk duct that have not spread further. However, doctors told her the cancer was aggressive and strongly recommended she not wait to have it surgically removed.
A mastectomy — the removal of the whole breast — wasn’t necessary, but King did undergo a lumpectomy and seven weeks of radiation, three times a week. After a breast cancer test came back negative, it was determined that she didn’t need chemotherapy.
“I had the best-case scenario,” King said. “I was very fortunate.”
Now 43, King feels like she never had cancer. And in some ways she said breast cancer was one of the best things that has happened to her.
“I’ve had opportunities that I wouldn’t have had, had I not had breast cancer,” King said.
Trekking in the Himalayas has been on King’s bucket list for years, she said. When she heard her doctor was likely going to take a group of cancer survivors to Mt. Everest base camp through Radiating Hope, she did all she could to be considered for the trip.
“I was persistent, and persistence paid off,” King said.
The trek is organized by Radiating Hope, a volunteer-run nonprofit organization that raises funds to provide developing countries with radiation equipment. Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is sponsoring this trip.
This week, King and her husband Kevin King will join about 30 cancer survivors and caregivers from around the country in Nepal, where they will venture to base camp, which sits at about 17,500 feet in elevation.
Lisa and Kevin will arrive at 4,383 feet above sea level in Kathmandu.
“Some of the people (going on the trek) have never done much like this,” King said. “My husband and I have, but not to this degree.”
Of the 15 trip days, 10 of them will be spent trekking about 13 miles a day.
“We’re doing it faster than anyone I’ve ever talked to,” King said.
The health care providers at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center have been a source of strength for King.
“Lisa is one of our heroes,” Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center CEO Doug Crabtree said. “The way she has tackled her own disease and now is anxious to help bring awareness to the community and others by agreeing to go on this challenge and trek. She’s just one of my heroes.”
Explorer of the Month highlights people doing unique, notable or inspiring activities outdoors. Please send ideas to ccripe@ idahostatesman.com.