Go backBeyond Bold After Cancer
Dare to dream big, like… climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Here's how one woman did it.
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Our seasonal lingerie collection is all about being bold — moving and thriving in a new way, trying a tangibly different approach, and changing your outlook. We love stories of confidence and daring, like this one from a reader in Poland.
Reaching the summit
Some women promise themselves that if they get through breast cancer, they will take on a challenge that’s equal to everything they’ve already been through, not just for themselves, but on behalf of every other woman who’s enduring her own personal trials. When Malgosia Kurtyka-Koziol got the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, she doubted she’d be up to it.
But then she dared to dream.
Not only had she come through radical breast surgery after finding a lump, she subsequently had her other breast and ovaries removed, following the discovery that she carried the BRCA1 gene. After the initial anger and fear, Malgosia says, “I began to understand that I must live for myself — not live the life of my children or my husband. So bit by bit, I started to change. My life become not just about doing everything for everybody, but about doing something for me.”
Every journey begins with one step
When she heard about the Kilimanjaro expedition, organized by the Pokonaj Raka cancer foundation in Poland, Malgosia’s immediate reaction was that it wasn’t for her. She secretly dreamed of taking part, however, and decided to undergo the necessary fitness tests. Amazed to be approved as part of the team, she started preparations that included an 11-day “trial run,” medical tests, vaccinations and amassing the necessary equipment for the much bigger climb.
The experience was, she says, “Exciting, chaotic, breathtaking,” and incredibly challenging. “I did it, though. I went all the way to the top of Kilimanjaro and I know I will manage to conquer other peaks, including those in life.” For her, the road to the summit was like fighting breast cancer. “130 meters from the top I had a crisis of confidence. I was weak and tired. I felt I couldn’t go on. Then I remembered a point in my chemotherapy when I’d felt just the same. I’d had enough — I wanted to give up, but the prospect of telling my husband and children was enough to change my mind and I soldiered on. And in the same way, I fought on to the top of the mountain.”
Malgosia’s personal journey was about taking ownership of her life. “I now know that a woman can do everything. You don’t have to wait until you get the all-clear. I went and got myself a new life, and I can’t waste it. And what I’d say to others is don’t wait — listen to your inner voice, let your intuition speak and have no fear.”