Conquering your own Mount Everest

I wrote this for a five minute speech I presented to kids at the Service Life basketball camp last week. Most of the kids come from difficult circumstances: foster care, low income, etc. So I wanted to give them a message of hope, that they can create their own destiny, and that they aren’t constrained by their uncontrollable circumstances. I had to condense my message and the story I shared into five minutes, so forgive me if you find a mistake in this true story of the worst disaster in Mount Everest history. And forgive me if it sounds like I’m talking to kids, because I was.

“I want to tell you a story. Movies have been made and books have been written about this story. This story happened on Mount Everest. Mount Everest is the highest mountain on earth. People from all over the world travel to Mount Everest every year to climb to its tallest peak. But conditions are so severe on this mountain.

Temperatures can be 40 degrees below zero,
winds can be 20-40 mph,
and oxygen masks are needed climbing to the summit.

In 1996, a group of climbers headed up the mountain, until an unexpected storm blew in. Conditions were so bad, they couldn’t see in front of them, and some of them couldn’t make it down the mountain and were left to die.

One of these men who was left to die was Beck Weathers. Climbers passed him by because he lay motionless and didn’t respond.

The climbers were told to make it down the mountain and check in with the doctor at the base camp. These climbers suffered from hypothermia, frostbite, and snow blindness.

As climbers made their way into the tent to get help, they were all surprised to see one man stumble in who had been reported as dead. Guess who it was?! Beck Weathers! Somehow he made it down the mountain and into camp. The doctor assumed he would be incoherent and not able to communicate clearly, but Beck walked in and nonchalantly said, “Hi Ken. Where should I sit?” and then, “Do you accept my health insurance?” The doctor was surprised he was so aware and even still had his sense of humor. He had severely frostbitten hands that were white, and his face was black from frostbite.

Beck told the doctor what had happened:

He got lost in the storm and collapsed in the snow, unable to move. Climbers came by, looked at him and he heard them say, “he’s dead.” But Beck wasn’t dead. He was completely unable to move. So climbers passed him by. Beck layed there for a day, a night and another day. And then {{HERE IS THE KEY}} he said to himself, “I don’t want to die. I have a family to come back to.” And the thoughts of his family, his wife and kids, generated enough energy, enough motivation in him that he actually got up after laying in the snow for that long and found his way back to camp.

The doctor couldn’t believe it. Beck reversed something (extreme hypothermia) that was irreversible. Eight climbers were lost that day, but Beck wasn’t one of them. He generated incredible will power. He was able to use his mind to save himself. (Beck eventually lost his right hand, some of his left fingers and toes and part of his nose to frostbite)


We all have our own ‘Mount Everests.’

My personal Mount Everest is a disease that doctors say will eventually take over my body. I’ve been battling cancer for 4 years. When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I was bald from chemo and had burns so bad from radiation that my whole chest was exposed flesh. I spent many days in the hospital fighting for my life. Doctors don’t expect me to live a long life. But that is my own personal Mount Everest.

Everyday, I have to choose if I’m going to mop around and be sad about having this disease, or if I’m going enjoy the day and make the most out of it.

Everyday, I have to choose if I’m gonna be a victim of my circumstances and say “oh poor me” or if I’m going to make it an opportunity to change things for the better.

Everday, I have to choose if I’m going to QUIT on life, or if I’m going to LIVE life to the fullest.

Everyday, I have that choice. And so do you.

What is your Mount Everest? What is something you might not have control over but is difficult for you? It may be something at home, at school, with your friends, your health, whatever it is… you have the opportunity to choose how you deal with it.

I want you to know that you can do anything! Don’t listen to the doubts and to the doubters. This man, Beck, was dead on top of the tallest mountain in the world, and he used his mind and will power to get off the mountain. That tells me that we, as humans, can do anything!

The question is, when your Mount Everest comes (which it surely will), what are you going to do about it?
Are you going to be a victim of circumstance (oh poor me)? Or are you going to take action, just like Beck Weathers, and conquer your own Mount Everest?”

About Melanie

Hi. My name is Melanie. I currently live in Salt Lake City with my husband and our three children. Although I have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, people are continuously surprised of my optimism for life. For this reason, I have started this blog to inspire others to live life to the fullest as if they had Five Years To Live.

2 Responses to Conquering your own Mount Everest

  1. Erin says:

    Love it Mel. Really inspiring. Just found my lesson for tomorrow night’s back-to-school family home evening lesson! I know it will be meaningful to my kids.

  2. Babata says:

    You are awesome Mel!!

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