Climb Your Everest

Last week I had the incredible honor of meeting Erik Weihenmayer in Phoenix, Arizona at Aramark’s Ring of Stars event. Erik is best known for reaching the summits of the 7 highest peaks of the world despite being totally blind. Surrounded by his team he achieved the impossible. Against all odds, he attained his dreams and with a “no barriers” life he experienced the unimaginable. In essences he is one of the most admired climbers and people of our time.

As I sat in the audience listening to Erik’s account of his climbing expeditions, it struck me that I too am a climber. While I am not physically battling the wind and snow on Mt Everest, I am constantly battling and climbing to defeat a chronic, and sometimes debilitating, bladder condition. My ‘Everest’ is Interstitial Cystitis. IC is also known as painful bladder syndrome and to many, the challenge of overcoming IC can appear insurmountable. The summit can seem out of reach and the many failed treatment options can be too much to take.

But I am writing today to give hope to those IC warriors out there who are stuck at base camp. I, too, was once stranded at base camp, bed ridden for almost 2 years due to chronic fatigue. My IC pain was once so debilitating I wanted to cut my bladder out of my body. I wanted to detach myself from the unrelenting pain and the infuriating beast that is IC.

But now the summit of my Mt Everest is within my sights. This Sunday I am going run the San Francisco half marathon, wearing a race bib that says “IC Warrior”. I will be representing all the IC Warriors who are climbing the IC Everest with me and I will be fighting each step of the way to fly the flag at the very top.

As the race approaches I have constant doubts and fears in my mind. I have a fear that I will have a bad flare this week, as many bad flares have hit me and interrupted my training. Also some people are putting doubts in my mind: “Are you sure you should be doing this?” “Why are you pushing yourself” “Be careful and don’t over do it”. Sure I could sit back and camp out for the rest of my life but that life is for quitters. And I’m here to show the world that IC Warriors are not quitters! We will not be beaten. We will not take the easy road and we will fight until the bitter end. Fight until the day we all defeat IC!

I urge you to keep climbing your Everest. For me, 10 years ago, my Everest started off by being able to lift my head off the pillow, then get my feet out of bed, then stand up by myself, then walk a few steps, then walk a few more. Now I’m running 13.1 miles. Erik said “the road is long but you own the road”. Only you have the power to get to where you want to go. Have a vision. It may take you many many years but don’t give up HOPE that one day you will reach the summit of your Mt Everest too.

(This is me below in the front row at Lourdes, Frances in 2004)


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Auteur: Fiona McKiernan
My name is Fiona McKiernan and on September 1st, 2015 I proclaimed to the world that I am an “IC Warrior”.
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