First Dispatch from Tanzania

The Climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro by Cancer Survivors and Caregivers
Jan 11, 2012 1:15 PM ET
A group shot of the Mt. Kilimanjaro climbers

Road to More Birthdays Blog

By Dr. Richard Deming

We’ve enjoyed our first few days here on the continent of Africa. The sights, sounds and smells and magic of this place simultaneously startled and soothed our senses. Cancer has taught all of us that life does not always conform to a predetermined schedule or itinerary. Seven of the forty members of our group spent an unexpected 10 hour layover in Amsterdam due to flight delays. One cancer survivors has been subject to two cancelled flights and is still making his way across the globe to join us. We know that these unscheduled interruptions in our itinerary are not truly interruptions in life but are actually part of life and amazing encounters that never would have happened are now part of our group’s collective memory.

As we assembled to begin our first meal together in Africa, we shared a blessing. We thanked all those forces, both human and divine, that brought us together. We thanked all those loved ones, family, friends and caregivers, that made the day possible, and we prayed for those back home who are praying for us. We acknowledged the irony that we would not be here in Africa preparing to climb the continent’s highest peak if it wasn’t for life’s interruption that we call cancer.

I shared with our group a blessing from John O’Donohugh’s book To Bless the Space Between Us. The blessing was entitled, “for a new beginning.” The final stanza reads:

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in rest;

Soon you will be back in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

We are all excited and ready for our new beginning. We look forward to all the interruptions that Africa has to share with us. We welcome the transformation that these life interruptions will bring us as we journey together in Africa.