Robby Kojetin: 17th South African to summit Mount Everest

Robby Kojetin, talking about his Climb of Hope

What's the most challenging thing you've ever attempted? I'm half ashamed to say that the most daunting thing I've ever done (voluntarily, anyway) is probably going on a kloofing expedition down Suicide Gorge. I've never run a marathon, or done the Argus, or been on a hike that lasted for longer than a day, or climbed anything higher than Table Mountain.

So you can imagine that I felt mildly inadequate having a conversation with Robby Kojetin (pictured above). Because, like, HE'S CLIMBED EVEREST. Right to the top. Just three years after breaking both ankles and spending eight months in a wheelchair. And apparently he plans to do it again. (Everest, that is, not the wheelchair thing.)

I met Robby at a World Lymphoma Awareness Day event at the Mount Nelson last month, where he told us about his experiences and about what motivated him to do the climb. Robby lost a friend and mentor to lymphoma several years ago, and a number of other people close to him have been diagnosed with cancer through the years; so he undertook the Climb of Hope in order to raise funds for CHOC (Childhood Cancer Foundation), and to raise awareness around cancer, and lymphoma in particular.

Lymphoma is frequently misdiagnosed, because its symptoms are similar to those of illnesses like influenza and tuberculosis. The sad thing, of course, is that it's very treatable if diagnosed early. Take two minutes to read about the symptoms and treatment of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

When Robby was telling us what it was like up on Everest, he said something that really stuck with me: "You're there. You can't hit 'Escape'. It's a lot easier to face something if you know there's a way to back out when the going gets tougher than you thought it would, but it's quite different when you have no chance of escape, and no option of stopping for a rest either. And that's exactly how it is for those living with cancer, isn't it?

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