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Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to help fight cancer
August 30, 2018 | 11:55 AM
by Shruthi Nair
 
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A group of 20 people from Oman went on an adventurous expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for cancer awareness. Among the others who joined this exciting expedition was Juzer Nawab, a cancer survivor himself. Juzer has proved to the world that people can accomplish anything if they set their mind to it.

Any terminal illness that makes you feel as though the countdown to your last days has begun is terrifying. There are different ways in which people have dealt with such earth-shattering information, upon hearing it. We have heard and read about people’s brave battles against cancer and how these warriors have come out triumphant, giving hopes and inspiring many in the process. In Oman itself, there are a number of cancer survivors, who have openly spoken about their tumultuous journeys with the disease. One of the most iconic of them would be the four-time cancer survivor, Yuthar Al Rawahi, who started the Oman Cancer Association (OCA) nearly two decades ago. Since its inception, the non-profit organisation has undertaken numerous projects and initiatives to raise funds, as well as create awareness.

Recently, another one of their much-discussed landmark events took place, where a group of 20 people went on an adventurous expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for cancer awareness. The team was led by Nasser Al Azri, a volunteer at OCA who had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro back in 2016. People of mixed nationalities and backgrounds joined the trek for their own reasons with a common aim of conquering the peak of the highest mountain in Africa. Since the responsibility of the whole group was on Nasser, he wanted to make sure that all those joining him were completely committed and serious about this expedition.



Before going on the trek they had intense training sessions, team building exercises, and mostly importantly, yoga. Nasser and all the volunteers who joined unanimously agreed how important yoga was as more than physical training, it was their mental strength that was being put to test. They started their meetings and training weeks before going to Tanzania here in Muscat by doing exercises or long walks from Sifah to Quriyat just to get into the groove of things. Apart from maintaining positivity throughout their summit days and nights, another difficult challenge they faced was weather as the team was braving temperatures as low as -26 degrees. Among the others who joined this exciting expedition for a noble cause was Juzer Nawab, a cancer survivor himself.

During Nawab’s battle with cancer, he realised the importance of physical activity, which helped him tremendously. Hence, when such an opportunity arose along after his long haul with cancer, he grabbed it, although he realised the challenges it posed. He had never been on a trek of this scale, he was the only cancer survivor in the bunch, which meant his stamina was perhaps not on par with the rest of the group, and it was his first time. “It was a challenging trek and I knew my limitations. Mentally, I was prepared before going on the trek and physically, I was hoping that things would work out for me,” he said.





The purpose of the trek was to promote a healthy lifestyle and in the process raise funds for a noble cause. Since OCA has always believed that physical activity is an important component in preventing cancer, activities such as this one, that are not just challenging but are also a lot of fun and give an adrenaline boost, fall perfectly in line.

According to the World Health Organisation, between 30-50 per cent of all cancer cases are preventable. Tobacco use is the single greatest risk factor for cancer mortality and kills approximately six million people each year, from cancer and other diseases. Dietary modification is another important approach to control cancer. There is also a link between being overweight and obesity to many types of cancers such as that of the oesophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium, and kidney. Regular physical activity and the maintenance of a healthy body weight, along with a healthy diet, considerably reduce the risk of cancer.



It is such preventive measures that the OCA is aiming to bring to the fore through this activity. “Cancer is an ailment that can be prevented. An unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle that doesn’t involve a lot of physical activity could result in triggering cancer. The Oman Cancer Association aims to create awareness about this fact,” said Nawab, the cancer survivor who was part of the expedition. In today’s day and age, when people are bogged down with office work that usually revolves around a desk, stuff their faces with a lot of junk food, and avoid any kind of physical activity and are lethargic, obesity and the subsequent cardiovascular diseases are not uncommon. It is this culture that the OCA is trying to change for all people.

All volunteers, including Juzer said that when they reached the peak and saw the view beneath, all the hard work, time, and energy given to this was totally worth it. Although they had scaled one of the highest mountains in the world, for many in the team, they had more importantly conquered their own respective metaphorical mountains. —[email protected]

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