Cancer survivor's drive to help others

Last updated 05:00 07/07/2014
Tracy Pepper

NEW FRIENDS: Tracy Pepper visited an orphanage in Tanzania.

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 Tracy Pepper
THE CLIMB: Tracy Pepper climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last year.
 Tracy Pepper
SUPPORT: Porters help carry equipment up Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

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My partner, Tracy Pepper, is a Canadian living in Tauranga.

When she was just 10 years old, Tracy was told that she had a rare ovarian cancer. She had a 2.2-kilogram tumour - the size of a football - and was given zero chance of survival, although no-one told her just how serious it was.

Tracy was the first recipient of a clinical trial to test harsh chemotherapy drug combinations. The side-effects were potentially devastating and the long-term damage was unknown.

Against all odds, Tracy survived.

She has used her gift of a second chance at life to support others with cancer.

She has been a devoted volunteer for 30 years, and has been particularly active in CanTeen for the past few years that she has lived in New Zealand.

Last September, Tracy was invited, along with other cancer survivors, to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer.

During her visit to Tanzania, Tracy realised that the porters who help visitors climb the mountain were under-equipped and in desperate need of warm clothing and footwear.

On average, two porters die each day because of exposure up the mountain.

Tracy donated what warm clothing she had with her to some of the porters who helped her make the climb, but she wanted to do more.

While there, Tracy visited an orphanage and a school, and saw the meagre school supplies that these children, who are eager to learn, are equipped with.

This trip inspired her to return to Tanzania to help.

In July and August, Tracy and I will drive across Canada to collect donated winter clothing and school supplies for the porters of Mt Kilimanjaro and the local children.

We will then deliver the donated items to Zara Charity in Tanzania and spend three months working as volunteers.

Zara Charity does a lot of good work in the local community, supporting several worthy causes.

To follow our journey, visit One Mountain At A Time on Facebook.

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