Last Update from Kathmandu

Howdy to All,

I’m battered. In a good way. Perhaps battered and fried. In the best tradition of St. John’s fish and chips. All of my senses have been filled to overflowing with the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of Kathamndu. We had a city tour this morning and many images from the city are replaying in my mind.

We started at the Monkey Temple. As I passed under the gate, I looked skyward where thousands of Tibetan prayer flags waved at the sky. The squares of blue, green, white, yellow, and red danced on the breeze and showered us standing below, with prayers for the good of humanity. I glanced across and caught sight of an old monk standing on a balcony of a monastery. His weathered skin draped from his face like his saffron and maroon robes hung from his body. I could see him looking though the world and wished to sit and talk with him.

On a stupa to his left swung a monkey, like Tarzan, from a strand of detached flags. He almost seemed to be playing as he pushed off the side of the stupa and swung out wide until the arch brought him crashing back to the whitewashed face. We climbed the back stairs to Swayambhunath (the true name for the Stupa) and passed many women with young children begging for money to feed their children. Atop the stairs, we were treated a commanding view of the Kathmandu Valley but no mountains were spotted through the clouds.

Our guide introduced us to the five Buddhas that adorn the sides of the Stupa, one each for each of the directions and one for the future–each draped in a robe of one of the prayer flag colours. I circumambulated the stupa three times spinning the prayer wheels asking for everyone’s safe return from the mountain. As I climbed down the stair, I caught sight of one youngster “tobogganing” down the concrete ledge on the side of the stairs on a crushed pop bottle. Kids will be kids the world over.

Leaving the peace of the stupa behind, we descended into the chaos of a festival laden Kathamndu. We bused over to Durbar Square and braved the throng of humanity. Because of the Dashian festival, children are off school and many are off work. The square was filled with both tourists and locals. We were introduced to the three Hindu deities and how to recognize their temples. We caught a rare glimpse of the Living Goddess Kumari and then walked north back towards Thamel.

It is here that the streets narrowed and every type of conveyance shared the road. We squeezed through bumpers, narrowly avoided both speeding and stopped motorcycles, and got quite chummy with umbrellas. I started filling rapidly and knew I would soon need some time out from such intense sensory input. Fortunately about the time I was maxing out, we turned the corner and entered the relative calm of Thamel. I never in my life thought I would describe Thamel as calm.

A bit of time in the New Orleans’s Café garden and I’m raring to go once again. The climbers’ duffels are all off in storage for tomorrow morning’s flight-they will go direct to base camp. Climbers will carry their own trekking gear in. So all gear decisions have been made, anxiety about gear is almost nil, so now it’s time to turn such worries to acclimatization and staying healthy. The team has all arrived and seems in good spirits. We’ll have a team dinner tonight and head for the mountains tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

I’ll be switching to audio updates from here on in (except for perhaps Namche) so remember than my spoken voice is different than my written one. I won’t be able to respond to individual messages of encouragement but they will be read to me over the phone-so please do send encouragement on regular intervals.

As we walked along today, Tim, one of my teammates, said my pink hair was easy to spot amid the chaos of the street. I also heard “Namaste-Nice Hair” as a greeting today and the room keepers at the hotel gathered to check out the famous hair when we returned from the tour. I sometimes forget that I have pink hair but I don’t forget that I am here climbing to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research.

The following are some statistics about breast cancer in Canada and some of the ways that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic is using the money they raise to work towards a future free from breast cancer. One hundred percent of the money raised by Pumori: Climb for Awareness goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic to help fund projects like the ones below. I thank you if you have already supported this cause and invite you to if you haven’t had the time or opportunity to do so yet. As you can see, the foundation is doing some very necessary and valuable work in our community. Click here to make a contribution.

Thanks for coming along on this journey-catch you from the mountains.


Breast Cancer Stats:
• In 2008, it is estimated that 360 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Newfoundland and Labrador and 100 will die of the disease.
• Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Newfoundland women.
• 1 in 9 Atlantic Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime (by age 90).
• Men get it too. An estimated 170 Canadian men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.
• On average, 431 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every week. • On average, 102 Canadian women will die of breast cancer every week. • 52% of all new breast cancer cases occur in women ages 50-69. Working Together to Save Lives:
• Early detection is a person’s best defense against breast cancer.
• CBCF – Atlantic Region has set a goal that 85% of all eligible women in Atlantic Canada be screened for breast cancer by 2010.
• In 2009, CBCF will launch Tour for the Cure, an education campaign in a bus, which will visit cities, towns and communities across the region to promote the importance of early detection.

Making a Difference:
• Since opening its doors in 1997, CBCF – Atlantic Region has awarded $12 million for Research and Community Health Projects – right here in Atlantic Canada.
• $5,980 for 4 breast cancer survivors from Newfoundland and Labrador to attend the 5th World Conference on Breast Cancer
• $711,000 for equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. • To date CBCF – Atlantic has awarded $225,000 for quality of life projects.
• CBCF – Atlantic Region has recently awarded funding to Dr. Gary Paterno at Memorial University of Newfoundland to better understand how breast cancer grows and progresses in the body.
• In 2007, CBCF – Atlantic Region awarded studentship awards to Julie Whitten (working in Dr. Kensuke Hirasawa’s lab) and Heather Fifield (working in Dr. Laura Gillespie’s lab) at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
• In 2007, CBCF – Atlantic Region awarded $60,000/year for two years to Dr. Kenneth Kao at Memorial University for his project “Stopping the Cancer Growth Engine”
• CBCF – Atlantic Region has also funded Dr. Terry-Lynn Young’s research at Memorial University which explored the genetics of breast cancer.
• CBCF – Atlantic Region has awarded over $200,000 for Treatment and Diagnosis projects. This includes $15,000 awarded recently to the Cancer Care Program of Newfoundland and Labrador to certify 4 regional nurses on lymphedema.

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