Belinda Witchell

Belinda Witchell

In November 2015 I’ve decided to take on the gutsy challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I chose to support the GI Cancer Institute as it has personally affected my family and I plan to raise $3,500.00 to fund life-saving clinical trials to help people living with GI cancers. My Nana suffered bowel cancer when I was a teenager and right now my Dad is battling oesophageal cancer. Seeing my dad go through the suffering, even before treatment inspired me to do something to make a difference to all those who suffer GI cancers. There simply has to be better treatment, or hopefully a cure out there, we just need the money to support these brilliant people who can find it.

My Dad is  a typical country man who has been an apple orchardist all his life. He is typically Australian; honest, reliable, hardworking, would give you the shirt off of his back kind of bloke. Throughout my life he’s been the one man that has always had my back, loved and supported me unconditionally. If my car breaks down, he comes to help. If I need to move house, he pitches in. If I make a bad choice regarding a boyfriend he will voice his concern. Now it’s my turn to show him unconditional love and support. Mt Kilimanjaro is just another way of showing him how truly important he is to me. Hours upon hours sitting by his bed in hospital chatting, stroking his arm, holding his hand has given me a new appreciation of him and shown me he is not invincible after all.

As a primary school teacher I have never done anything like climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, the closest I’ve come to that is outdoor education at high school; it really doesn’t compare!! I have concerns about the duration, altitude, temperature of Mt Kilimanjaro, however the pain I will experience will be nothing compared to what my dad is, and has experienced. I’m sure when I reach the top of Mt Kilimanjaro as the sun rises over beautiful Tanzania and I reflect on the love I have for my Dad, the pain of the climb will be well worth it.

My family and friends were initially quite shocked and even somewhat concerned when I first told them I was going to take on this challenge. However, they have supported me every step of the way. It means so much to know that whatever I choose to do and whatever path I take in life that my wonderful family and friends will support me.

My main hope in completing this climb is to be a small part of the eventual cure of GI cancers. By putting myself out there and challenging myself I will raise money that will inevitably enable brilliant scientists to make new discoveries in relation to treatment and potentially even a cure for these awful cancers. Who knows? Maybe the money I raise will be used to discover the breakthrough we have been waiting for!!