'It's such a great thing to be with fellow cancer survivors'

'It's such a great thing to be with fellow cancer survivors'
SEATTLE -- They're living proof that a cancer diagnosis can be beat.

But the three Northwest women are more than that. They're also proof that you can climb mountains after beating cancer.

They came together with a group of other climbers of varying skill levels over the weekend to take on Mt. Hood.

The Oregon peak stands tall at 11,237 feet. It's a steep climb to the summit, about a 40-degree grade at times. But that didn't stop the women from reaching the top.

"Well, it was great up there," said climber Nikki Milonas. "It was great snow conditions. And you pop out and then it opens up a bit, and amazing views. Yeah, very much enjoyed it."

Milonas is not new to mountain climbing. She and her husband have summited mountains all over the world. But this experience was different.

"You know what? I almost cried up there, because it's such a great thing to be with fellow cancer survivors," she said.

Milonas beat breast cancer. So did her fellow climber, Lynn Lippert.

At age 68, Lippert has survived two breast cancers, and is currently being treated for bone cancer. But that hasn't stopped her from climbing and inspiring others. Mt. Hood is the second climb Lippert attempted this year; she took on Mt. Shasta two weeks ago.

"And it sure is great to be climbing with survivors, and I just have to say it sure as heck beats chemo," Lippert said.

Kristin Peterson, another cancer survivor, joined Milonas and Lippert in reaching the summit of Mt. Hood on Sunday. It was the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer's first-ever Survivor Summit.

"You know, it's more of an emotional experience that I thought it would be," said Peterson. "So just every step was- now I'm going to cry."

"I always cry on the summit, because I'm so damn happy to be climbing," Lippert said.

Other climbers joined them, sharing in the tears and joy of summiting a mountain. Each dedicated their climb to a loved one lost, or a survivor they're thankful to still have in their lives.

"It feels great," said Peterson. "I feel like I accomplished something that I wasn't sure I could do."

Lippert created a banner in 2005, to write the names of people she and others dedicated their climbs to. The banner is now so full of names there's no room to add any.

"And it just points out that there's way too much cancer," she said.

And that's the reason Lippert and all the other climbers dedicate themselves to raising money for research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Climb to Fight Breast Cancer climbers have raised more than $1 million to date.

Editor's Note: KOMO's own Denise Whitaker took on the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer challenge herself in memory of our late co-worker, Tricia Moen. Help her reach her fundraising goal for Fred Hutchison by donating online.