On March 18, Anita McGrath will climb Australia’s highest peak and fulfil a lifelong dream.
But it will not be as simple as just walking to the peak.
Anita was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014 and this will be the first time she has taken part in the Kosi Challenge.
Determined to make the most of the chance to climb Mt Kosciuszko, Anita said she would not use the chairlift but will tackle Merrits Track.
She will be climbing with her husband and two sons along with other family and friends.
“It’s something more of a challenge than the usual fundraisers and the setting will be fantastic,” she said.
“Climbing Kosi is something I’ve always wanted to do so this is a great opportunity for me.”
The Kosi Challenge first started in 2013 and was an initiative of Rare Cancers Australia.
The organisation was founded by Richard and Kate Vines and there are now offices in Bowral, Sydney and Melbourne.
Richard said there were just over 280 people already registered for the event and hoped to reach the 300 mark.
As of March 7, the fundraising effort had reached $39,704.
For Anita, who lives in Brisbane, it all started with a persistent cough.
After many different tests, treatments and diagnoses, doctors confirmed she had lung cancer.
“I never thought I was a candidate for lung cancer,” she said.
“I have never been a smoker. I eat well and exercise daily to keep my body and mind in good working order.”
While chemotherapy and radiation did not result in any significant improvement, Anita’s tumour tested positive to a rare fusion gene called Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK).
This has opened up further treatment options including Crizotinib which is a target therapy drug.
When she first started using Crizotinib it was not listed on the PBS and cost Anita $7,500 a month.
She thanked Rare Cancers Australia for helping her when she first started taking Crizotinib.
“It was only through their help that I could afford to take this new drug.”
Anita said Crizotinib was listed on the PBS in 2015 for lung cancer but not for other rare cancers that could also benefit from it.
“Finding money to pay for my treatment each month was more stressful than the cancer diagnosis itself,” she said.
“Rare Cancers Australia needs our help to raise money to allow all others with rare and less common cancers equal access and opportunities to treatments.”
Richard Vines said if anyone could not take part in the climb, it would be great if they could donate to someone like Anita.
“It’s a pretty gutsy thing to do with lung cancer. We’d love people to get behind her.”
Visit http://www.kosichallenge.com.au/my-fundraising/177/manos-team to view Anita’s fundraising page.
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