Lessons Learned On the Way to Mt. Everest Base Camp, Part 1 of 6

First off, let me explain WHY.

I gave birth to five children, two of whom struggled from infancy to do what I take for granted…breathe. Lexi, my youngest daughter, lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis after rejecting the lungs that had been transplanted into her fragile body when she was just 14-years-old. During that brief window of time – between receiving new lungs and those transplanted lungs being rejected by her body – Lexi would get this amazed look on her face and try to explain how different it felt…being able to take a deep breath. I remember one day as she was sipping water through a straw. “Mom,” she explained, “this is what it’s like!  If you try breathing through a straw…it’s just what it feels like to breathe when you have CF.”


Sharlie, who is now thirty-one years old, married, and a mother herself, continues to fight her battle every single day. I watch in awe as she paces herself, carefully monitoring her breathing. I watch helplessly as she stops halfway up the stairs to catch her breath and as she struggles to keep up with Harrison, their very active three-year-old son. I marvel at her propensity for joy in spite of her diminished breathing capacity.

Sharlie doing a breathing treatment at Sanoviv
Sharlie and Ryan holding their son, Harrison

Ben who is nine-years-old and his little sister, six-year-old Lauren, were also born with this genetic disease. They are two of my precious grandchildren and so far, thanks to the advancements in treating CF and the loving, constant care of their parents, they’re doing relatively well yet still spend a considerable amount of time each day doing “breathing treatments” to help them keep their lungs clear and free from infection.

I live in Elfin Forest, a magical rural community in San Diego, California that sits at sea level. My oxygen saturation is about 99%.  For me, breathing is effortless. I never give it a second thought…or at least I didn’t until recently. At 17,590 feet, Mt. Everest Base Camp is a rugged other-worldly landscape at the base of the top of the world. And with only about half as much oxygen at Base Camp as there is when I’m home in San Diego, I felt certain this experience would help me understand what it feels like to struggle for every breath. My assumption was correct.

So, that is why a 57-year-old grandmother who started out on January 1st at a fitness level of about 2 (on a scale of 1 being not fit at all and 10 being extremely fit) decided to stretch way out of her comfort zone to join Werner Berger and 38 other brave souls (almost all are USANA distributors) on a three week adventure…a trek through the Khumbu Region of the Himalayas with a goal to reach Mt. Everest Base Camp.

Stay tuned for five additional installments explaining five of the most pertinent lessons I learned from this experience. And since pictures tell the story best…I’ll share lots.

On a Sherpa trail with our group

The Nepali flag

On a Sherpa trail with Ama Dablam in the background 

Carved prayer stone…these were everywhere
A short video I took in the beautiful Monastery village of Tengboche, Nepal


P.S. If you would like a day-to-day account of what it was like on the trail, you can check out my son’s blog at dirtyrunning.blogspot.com.  You can also see more about our group trek on USANA’s blog

2 comments… add one
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