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Garden of Eden

Submitted by j_ung on 2005-11-16 | Last Modified on 2009-01-25

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Photos copyright, Moonphoto, 2005

Ovarian cancer survivor, Eden Ellman.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but what would you do if you only had a limited time left to live? It’s a party game to some and a discussion reserved for long road trips to others, but for Eden Ellman of Boulder, CO, it became a sudden, terrifying reality when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “I thought, ‘So this is the way I’m going to die,’” says Ellman. But she persevered and began treatment with optimism. She even managed to climb several times during her treatment.

Joan Zuber, 60, & Amy Mullens, 71, climbing in honor of their dear friend, May.

The general public doesn’t know anywhere near as much about ovarian cancer as, say, breast cancer. Volunteers and organizations raise tens of millions of dollars per year for breast cancer research, but ovarian cancer awareness is still far behind. “Think breast cancer 20 years ago,” says HERA Foundation’s publicist, Stephanie Forte, explaining how most women are unaware of ovarian cancer symptoms and that they are not screened during their annual exam. Because of this, most ovarian cancer diagnoses are late stage when the chance of survival is minimal.

Nate Gold and Hera founder and ovarian cancer survivor, Sean Patrick, share a dance.

But not so for women like Ellman and HERA Foundation President, Sean Patrick (above) who fought back hard from late-stage ovarian cancer and beat the odds. Patrick went on the form the HERA Foundation, which holds Climb for Life events around the United States and Mexico including Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Jackson Hole, Potrero Chico, Mexico and coming up in 2006 Smith Rock and the Red River Gorge.

The Climb for Life Salt Lake City, a rendezvous-like event, draws a crowd that grows each year.

The latest SLC event, which occurred in September of this year, logged over 300 climbers and volunteers, all whom participated in climbing and social events. Preliminary reports show that C4L 2005 raised around $80,000 dollars for its cause, which is great… but nowhere near enough. Participants came from all walks of life and from across the country, but many had something in common: they had been touched by cancer at some point in their lives.

Lisa Rands climbs for a cause.

Every year, C4L features plenty of food and drink, plenty of activity and, of course, plenty of climbing. Several pro climbers, such as Lisa Rands, Wills Young, Nate Gold, Katie Brown, Chris Lindner, Adam Stack, Heidi Wirtz, Brittany Griffith and Jim Donini jumped in to help, too. According to Forte, "Pros travel and attend events throughout the year. Most tell us they volunteer their time for the Climb for Life because they feel good about doing something that makes a difference."

Nikki going for it at the 2005 SLC Climb for Life.
Heather Yardley of Colorado climbing for life.
Volunteer, Rebekka Berry, pulling hard in support of C4L.
Jannine Witte founder of, Stephanie Forte, HERA Board member and Lizzy Sculley, founder of She Sends.

Says Ellman of the C4L crowd, “I was surprised by how many people there were. I thought I’d meet other cancer survivors and I did, but there are also a lot of people who just want to help. Lots of people are climbing for someone they know who was touched by cancer.”

For more information about ovarian cancer and HERA Foundation’s Climb 4 Life, check HERA’s website. Climb 4 Life happens every September in Salt lake City, UT.

Not quite ovarian cancer, but… ouch!

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