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To the Top of Half Dome and the World

by Jane Bresnick

It was 6:00 a.m. when we left the parking lot and headed for the trail. We were surviving breast cancer, all of us. It had been a long, and challenging journey even before hitting the parking lot. (Long before hitting the parking lot.)

Our destination appeared far in the distance for miles as we walked. "Are we really going to make it all the way over there?" I wondered. For it wasn't such a stretch to remember when two city blocks were more than I could comfortably manage. And yet everybody kept walking. We walked with power. We walked with compassion. Together we walked with all our strength and determination. Because we COULD do this! (We had already made our way through so much more.)

And we DID!

We carried bags of food and water, pills and whatnot for all kinds of possibilities, accustomed to being prepared. (Would anyone dare to take an ativan before climbing the rock?) Forced to face our deepest fears throughout this cancer journey, we stood before our fear this time by choice. And by choice we grabbed hold of the cables and pulled ourselves up to the top of the rock, and felt the power of SURVIVAL.

Jane Bresnick lives in San Francisco where she is a member of the Bay Area Young Survivors (BAYS). Their 2005 hike of Half Dome in Yosemite raised $42,500 for local organizations supporting women with breast cancer.