Breast cancer is a disease that silently attacks women.
If it is treated in time, it is possible to reduce the risks of metastasis. Worldwide, more than 1.7 million cases are detected annually.
It is estimated that by 2025 there will be an increase of 2.5 million women suffering from breast cancer throughout the world.
One of the best ways to prevent is early diagnosis. This is where the figure of the mountaineer María Paz Valenzuela comes in, who after being diagnosed with breast cancer more than a year ago, managed to save herself after arduous chemotherapy.
Valenzuela, in order to give visibility to this pathology, ventured to the Himalayas.
In that Nepalese cordon, he challenged the summit of Everest with the main objective of generating a high impact on society by promoting the fight against cancer through annual preventive diagnoses.
“We combine a lot of hill training with gym training.
Three days we met in the Quebrada de Macul. There we do interval and bodybuilding work, which is what allows you to improve aerobic capacity with muscle power.
In the gym, what we seek is to generate muscle mass because oxygen deficit conditions at altitude make the muscle wear out faster and because there is a lot of weight loss as well ”, describes his trainer Tomás Grifferos.
María Paz went on the expedition accompanied by her two daughters, her coach and four other mountaineers.
They will be joined by the Sherpas, who are the experts and most acclimated to attack the top of the roof of the world. The great adventure is not without risks.
“There are two difficulties here. The first is the crossing of the glacier that is done through some stairs. Glaciers move, they are mobile.
Chances are high that a climber will fall into some of those crevices and kill himself. The other is the altitude. Above 8000 meters you can hardly walk ”, adds Grifferos.To face this great difficulty, María Paz and her team are already installed in the base camp and since Friday they have been rehearsing the step up the stairs.
Like many others, this great feat also had its previous testimony.Check out the highlights of that press conference, María Paz Valenzuela and her team, days before leaving for the Roof of the World.
When was this experience of climbing Mount Everest born?
“This campaign and expedition has been in process for a year. He left with my diagnosis in May of last year.
I did all the treatments and I always thought that I had to change my gaze in this difficult period and be positive. Get the most out of this experience.
It emerged that between what I do, which is climbing and mountains and cancer, the idea of being able to carry out a high-impact expedition was born to draw attention to the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
We cannot allow more women to die from a disease that can be improved.
That is what I want to show, that breast cancer can be improved if it is detected in its early stages.
And here I am with my expedition team. Natalia, who is in charge of logistics and with Elisa, who is all that is communications.
We have worked very hard. Each one in their part, putting their best and I training very hard. There is a huge group of people behind this. I am the face, but there is a lot of professional working alongside me ”.
How have you prepared physically?
“I am preparing with a coach who trains me five times a week. I am also with two kinesiologists who try to avoid any injuries. Also a sports nutritionist, who supports the nutrition part of a high training day.
I started my hard workouts 10 days after finishing my last chemo. That was in December. “
What message would you like to leave to women who cannot do this kind of thing?
“I want to tell you that despite how hard and difficult it means to be diagnosed with cancer, it is a stage that costs a lot and includes a lot of suffering.
I would like to convey the importance of having breast check-ups once a year after 40. It is essential. We don’t need three to four women to die a year.
We have no woman left over. It cannot be that someone dies from breast cancer ”.
When would the ascension be with the ideal weather forecast?How have you evolved in training from a physical point of view?
“There is a whole acclimatization process, therefore it will take us 15 days to get to the base camp, to arrive in an optimal acclimatization. From that minute, which may be at the end of April or around April 20, we will be preparing the mountain itself; equipping the camps.
We have four camps to equip. That means a job until about mid-May.
There is a window of good weather, so the summit could be between May 15 and 25, depending on when it occurs at the best minute to catch us up in the last camp to attempt the summit.
The preparation has been gradual. It was also intense because we didn’t have much time. I finished my last chemo in December and had medical permission to train 10 days after that. Since then, we have already climbed the hills without lowering the level of training, but it has been increasing more and more.
I have resisted very well ”.I would like to know if you are absolutely healthy from cancer?“I am not a medical experiment.
I did indeed finish my eight chemotherapy sessions. I just had blood tests and my follow-up mammogram. I am cured of that cancer.
It no longer exists and there is no chance that it will return. I am a breast cancer survivor. “
Could you tell us a little about your sports career? When you started? What are your motivations? What hills have you climbed?
“I started my sports career many years ago, but always privately. It is a personal food of the soul. I started in my university years with the mountaineering courses taught by Claudio Lucero.
From there I started climbing mountains and I never finished doing that again. It was a bit postponed by motherhood for a few years, but I have always been linked to mountaineering.
I’ve done enough high hills. In January 2017, I returned to Aconcagua for the second time. I wanted to go back after 30 years of uploading it.
I did that in 2017. I have been to the highest mountain in Peru which is Huascarán. I have been to many very beautiful mountains but not that big. I have been to many volcanoes in the south, in the Central Andes and in the north ”.
What latent risks have they studied in the ascent and how will they address the overpopulation of mountaineers that collapsed 5 years ago in high season with tourism companies?
“The overcrowding of the base camp is quite regulated after many accidents that have occurred. That is regulated for the safety of the climbers out there at the time. There they take turns, the expeditions are agreed, it is well organized now.
As for risks, there are risks in all life. The key is to make good decisions. That is why I take these two companies (his daughters) to base camp, which will be fundamental to evaluate and make the best decision.
The idea is to reach the summit safely and back to base camp. The risks are super studied and are being managed so that they stop being risks ”.
The world of mountaineering is dominated by many men.
Have you felt machismo throughout your career? Do you think that women must constantly overcome this difficulty?
“I don’t feel that way. The minute one reaches the mountain, we are all the same. Each with its weaknesses. Not for being a woman or a man.
The court is very even. We become climbers, mountaineers, companions, people, friends. Another dynamic takes place.
There are not many women because it is difficult to do so. I had a long break for motherhood and it is more attractive.
For Elisa or Natalia, why did you decide to accompany your mother on the expedition?
“When he told us, first it was like weird. It was like, “oh what’s going on.” But, we immediately wanted to support her in this important and beautiful project that she has.
If we can do anything to help you, just tell us.
We can go to help. We know that going on an expedition is not easy. If I am in charge of logistics, there are many things behind it.
She can’t do all that, because she has to be training. Between the two of us we wonder: What can we do to help you in this beautiful project that you have ”.
“When he told us, first it was like weird. It was like, “oh what’s going on.” But, we immediately wanted to support her in this important and beautiful project that she has. If we can do anything to help you, just tell us.
We can go to help. We know that going on an expedition is not easy. If I am in charge of logistics, there are many things behind it. She can’t do all that, because she has to be training. Between the two of us we wonder: What can we do to help you in this beautiful project that you have ”.
How long did it take you to return to your normal performance? To walk well again, not to feel tired, etc?
“During the eight months of chemotherapy, my body and my physical state lost a lot. I was weak and it was hard for me to even walk a block.
In December, when I finished the chemo, I had already decided to start recovering my physical condition, it was the first mission ”.
Why did you choose Mount Everest and why not another?
“The answer is very simple. It’s because he needed to make a big impact. The idea of the Stop Cancer campaign and calling on all women over 40 to have mammograms once a year is so important and I wanted this call to be powerful and big.
That it was a huge cry and that it be heard. This can be achieved with the size of a hill like Everest ”.