One could say Lisa Thompson is driven to reach new heights. As an avid mountaineer, she’s racked up 280,000 vertical feet to date, and that’s a conservative estimate. In 2009, standing on the summit of Mt. Rainier, she knew that mountaineering would be a significant part of her life. What she didn’t know is her love of a physical and mental challenge would play such a big part in another challenge she’d face in 2015.
Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Lisa recalls while waiting for final confirmation of her diagnosis, she was positive—not about her situation, but positive that her results would show that she had breast cancer. It’s fair to say like most women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, Lisa went through an initial period of shock and fear. But the resilient spirit she’d developed through her mountaineering experience quickly kicked in and she attacked this challenge like she would a tall, daunting mountain, one step at a time.
She was given referrals to a few providers, but found a strong connection with Dr. Christine Lee, a breast surgeon at the Swedish Cancer Institute. Even though Lisa knew a cancer diagnosis is nothing to be dismissive about, she says the last thing she wanted was to be treated like a delicate flower. She wanted to partner with someone on this cancer journey who understood, supported and appreciated that. Dr. Lee was that partner—in fact, she shared with Lisa, that against the advice of many, she herself once ran a marathon with a broken arm.
Lisa believes the strengths she developed as a part of mountaineering helped her through her cancer treatment. She focused on what she could control, surrounded herself with a strong team, and moved forward even when things were at their most difficult.
Just one year after her diagnosis and completion of treatment, Lisa summited Mt. Everest. She says that climb, in particular, taught her a lot about the human spirit, and in particular, her spirit. She learned that her body and mind are stronger than she ever could have imagined, and that despite cancer, she could accomplish seemingly unimaginable goals.
So what’s next? Lisa is training for a K2 climb in 2018. To date, no American woman has successfully summited K2. Lisa says she relishes the sense of accomplishment that comes with a successful climb, even if it doesn’t include the summit. When it comes to all of the challenges Lisa has faced, it’s safe to say the likelihood of her summiting K2 are high.
Follow Lisa’s journey to K2 at www.lisaclimbs.com.