Conquering Kosi: Maddie’s story

08 Mar 2023

For Maddie’s 3rd Kosi Challenge, she will not only be taking on Australia’s highest mountain, but she will be conquering Australia’s second highest mountain as well!

“After we make our way up Mount Kosciuszko, we'll be continuing on for a total of near 24km to climb Mt Townsend – a fitting challenge given that’s my last name,” Maddie said.

Maddie will be travelling from Victoria to NSW to complete this mammoth trek with eight of her close friends under the team name “Spirit of the Dragon”.

“The name is quite symbolic for me and my journey as the dragon represents resilience through adversity, they embody determination and the willingness and the perseverance to continue to self-improve,” Maddie shared.

Maddie was diagnosed with Thymoma in July 2020, just before Melbourne’s second significant COVID-19 lockdown. Adjusting to her new normal, facing not just a cancer diagnosis, but the added uncertainty of a rare cancer diagnosis in a global pandemic was difficult.

“It was a very strange thing to have to figure out because you weren’t going in to see the doctor, you were doing lots of telehealth consults, you had lots of video calls with people, not necessarily seeing the face of the person that’s telling you that you have cancer,” Maddie told.

“The trouble with rare cancers is that there’s a lot of theories, but not a lot of data. Many of the doctors you talk to are telling you what you can try. It’s hard to sit with because you want something that’s concrete, you want something that’s known.

“It’s been tough. There have definitely been days when it has been too much, and you sit there and cry for the loss of yourself, for the body that you used to have, for the unknown of the future. But goal setting really helped me to cope with all of it.”

Maddie and her team on a bush walk

That’s how Maddie got involved in her first Kosi Challenge.

“In the early stages I was all about working towards finishing that cross stitch, or making it to the end of that show. But one of the biggest things for me was when I was in hospital, they told me that I needed to walk to push the diaphragm back down again to get some lung function. That’s when I came across RCA’s Kosi Challenge. I set myself that goal,” Maddie said.

“It prompted me to walk around the hospital ward, five, six times a day. It prompted me to try that 2km walk, or as long as I could possibly go once I got discharged. It helped me keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

Maddie at Hotham

It’s been nearly three years since Maddie’s surgery, her scans continue to come back clear and she’s focusing on trying to live the best life she can post-diagnosis, including looking forward to her 3rd Kosi Challenge.

“I climb to celebrate my own personal achievements and to drum up support for Rare Cancers Australia (RCA) – everyone in our broader community needs to know about their hard work and all that they do to support patients like me,” Maddie explained.

Maddie and her friends have been training hard to conquer their new goal – Australia’s two highest mountains – as part of their Kosi Challenge 3.0.

“Most weekends we do a walk and every month we try to do a longer one. We took on the 25km Warburton Trail recently and have done the Kokoda Memorial Track several times. It’s great because it’s not just exercise for us, it’s fun and a way to build team spirit.”