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Why this cancer researcher (and survivor) is climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money to study cancer
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Why this cancer researcher (and survivor) is climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money to study cancer

has already fought cancer in additional methods than one. She’s a cancer survivor whose battle with breast cancer began when she was simply 28 years previous and pursuing a doctorate in immunology. And as a researcher on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Analysis Heart, she’s investigating methods to use our physique’s personal immune system to assault stable tumors.

However Anderson has one other plan to struggle the illness. She’s climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as a part of a fundraising effort that has raised $1.4 million and drawn 28 climbers, a number of of whom are biotech executives and buyers.

The trouble is led by , a veteran biotech journalist and founding father of the . Timmerman beforehand climbed Mount Everest in an identical effort and raised $340,000 in donations for Seattle’s Fred Hutch.

Timmerman picked Kilimanjaro with the concept that he may raise much more money with a bunch of climbers than he may on his personal. That thesis bore out, and the group simply beat their $1 million purpose. The money will go to supporting a number of the most high-risk, high-reward analysis at Fred Hutch. To help Anderson and the opposite climbers, you’ll be able to .

On the most recent episode of the GeekWire Well being Tech podcast, Anderson talks about how her personal struggle with breast cancer led her to pursue a profession in cancer analysis — and her plan for conquering Mount Kilimanjaro.

Anderson was nonetheless pursuing her doctorate when she was identified with a sort of breast cancer that was pushed by a genetic mutation. Fortunately, her medical doctors had been in a position to eradicate all indicators of the tumor with a chemotherapy drug that focused her cancer cells.

“After my cancer expertise, realizing that researchers had been the rationale I used to be alive, made me actually need to go into that sort of analysis myself,” she mentioned.

The younger researcher modified her focus from viruses and pathogens to cancer. Her work has centered on T cells, that are concerned within the immune system and can be utilized to successfully struggle blood cancers. The issue is that stable tumors have methods of stopping T cells from working. Anderson is learning how and why that occurs.

Anderson’s journey to Kilimanjaro began with a random encounter at Fred Hutch. “There was one Christmas the place I used to be working over the vacation and had merely gone down to go get espresso. And a few unusual particular person within the espresso store principally made eye contact and mentioned, “Hey .. are you a researcher?” Anderson mentioned.

The stranger was Timmerman, who stored her in thoughts afterward when he was recruiting climbers for the Kilimanjaro journey. Anderson had by no means climbed a mountain on this scale, however the alternative to do an epic journey to fund necessary analysis — not to point out construct connections with the opposite climbers — was too good to cross up.

Since signing on, Anderson has been coaching every time she will discover the time. Due to the calls for of her work, that largely interprets to mountaineering on a treadmill with a weighted vest at house. Sometimes, she’ll placed on a masks that limits the stream of air to simulate excessive altitude coaching. “It type of appears to be like like Bane from the Batman films,” Anderson mentioned. Her adolescent children “received freaked out” by the masks, so that they let her prepare in peace now. 

Anderson and the others will begin the climb this month for a journey that can final round seven days. She’s conserving her objectives reasonable and received’t be attempting to set any information.

“Folks that I’ve reached out to after I’m nervous have mentioned, ‘Simply maintain placing one foot in entrance of the opposite, and you’ll be the final one up. So long as you get to the highest, that’s a very powerful half,’” she mentioned.

Anderson is bringing two posters together with her on the climb: one with names of a bunch of people that’ve donated to her climb, and one with names of individuals shut to her who battled cancer or at the moment have the illness. The purpose is to take an image of their names on the prime of the mountain.

“As I’m struggling — feeling hungover as a result of that’s what altitude illness, I’m advised, looks like — I’m going to channel them and take into consideration how so lots of them are going by means of actually arduous stuff proper now,” Anderson mentioned. “And climbing a mountain is not almost as arduous as what they’re doing, so I’m hoping that can assist me get to the highest.”

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