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TeamFORCE Heroes

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Katie Oberlin

Katie O's Climb for Hereditary Breast Cancer

ACTIVITY TYPE: Personal milestone (DIY) — climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro

RAISED: $1,250

KATIE'S FUNDRAISING PAGE: https://teamforce.facingourrisk.org/fundraise?fcid=462995

 


My Story

The threat of breast cancer's been in my life since my mom was diagnosed when I was 12.  Three other family members also developed breast cancer, so we knew it was more than a coincidence.  

In 2014, I decided to take steps to reduce my risk.  Turns out I'm BRCA2 positive, but I found out my mutation comes from my father despite the strong family history on my mother's side of the family. Now I was faced with a high chance of getting breast cancer, too.  I had a nipple-sparing prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (PBM) and reconstructive implants in March 2015.

Paul, one of my longest-standing friends, really had my back — and front, sides — you name it — through the whole process.  We started dating about a month after the surgery.  He's been my rock, and gives me more confidence than I ever thought possible after my surgery. 

My Fundraiser

About six months after my surgery, Paul and I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and fundraise for causes we care about.  Paul chose a heart institute that saved his dad's life.  I chose FORCE. 

I explained to family and friends that we were making this once-in-a-lifetime challenge even more meaningful by giving back.  They knew what I'd been through and how important FORCE is to me.  Twenty people donated to show their support.

I can't begin to describe how much completing that hike meant to me.  I poured my soul into every step.  Any time I had trouble putting one foot in front of the other, I reminded myself of the strong women in my life who've fought bigger battles and how much I wanted to make it to the top for them.  They gave me the strength to keep going.

After five days of hiking and an all-night push for the summit, we reached the rim of the mountain as the sun peeked over the horizon.  It was breathtaking.  We kept going despite cold, windy conditions until we reached the top - Uhuru Peak - and stood on the roof of Africa.

Then another breathtaking thing happened - Paul proposed.  I obviously said yes.  Since we didn't have a ring, we picked a pebble from the top of the mountain as a symbol of our engagement and had it made into a necklace (we got a traditional ring back home).  We were on top of the world.

My Impact

FORCE has been a fantastic resource to me and I want it to be there for every person facing hereditary cancer. FORCE had all the information I needed, connected me to support, and recommended studies I could participate in to advance our knowledge of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.  I fundraise for FORCE to pay it forward, fight hereditary cancer, and save lives.

My Fundraising Tip

I paid 100% of my travel and hiking costs because I wanted every dollar to go to FORCE. 

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered