Cancer Diagnosis Inspires Boyne City Woman To Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

“You feel like you’re on top of the world when you get there.”

A Boyne City woman accomplished a major feat — climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The journey to the top of a mountain was inspired by a personal valley.

Karen Marietti was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.

That’s when she realized, it was time to start fully living her dreams and saying “yes” to life’s adventures.

Every seemingly impossible journey, starts with a single step.

A step Karen Marietti may not have taken, if it weren’t for cancer.

Climbing Africa’s tallest mountain had been a life-long goal.

“It was something I always wanted to do and why put it off when I can do it now?” explained Karen Marietti. “Because you never know what life’s going to throw at you. And I think breast cancer helped me see that.

After going through treatment, including a mastectomy, and coming out on the other side, this fall she decided it was time for the trek of a lifetime. 8 days, 30 miles, to the top of Kilimanjaro.

An amazing physical feat with rugged terrain, intense altitude and extreme changes in climate. Sometimes, Karen says, it seemed too daunting to keep climbing.

“Your whole body is screaming at you and your legs are like what are you doing,” said Marietti. “Every break you’re thinking I could turn around and I could go back down.”

But she says if you just keep going, one step will become two, will become three and will become 30 miles.

“It was interesting because the parallel between hiking and being on the breast cancer journey was so similar because when you’re hiking and you’re going uphill, there’s almost always people coming downhill who have been where you’ve been,” explained Marietti. “They’re always like ‘you can do it! You’ve got this! The same thing with breast cancer. No matter how bad the news was, like when they told me we’re going to have to do a mastectomy, there was someone coming downhill while I was trying to climb that hill and they were there to support me. They were there to pick me up when I needed it and help me get up that hill.”

And the view from the top? Well, there’s nothing like it. Karen celebrated from head to toe.

“There’s a saying. It says ‘the reason we climb is somewhere between the base and the summit’. It’s so true,” Said Marietti. “I’m still living the dream. I’m still on the trail to Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Karen is now two years cancer-free and looking forward to adding new adventures to her bucket list.

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