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Iowa cancer survivors embark on trek to Mount Kilimanjaro

24 of the 31 participants made it all the way to the summit.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Morgan Newman found out she had cervical cancer at a very young age.

"My cancer story began when I was 24 years old," she recalled. "And then I was diagnosed again with a metastatic recurrence to my lungs about a year after."

Alice Meyer also understands the shock that comes with a cancer diagnosis at a young age. 

"It was actually 32 years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer," Meyer told Local 5. "And my sons were four and six years old at the time. So it was it was a pretty scary time. Here I am 32 years later. And just so grateful to have gotten through that. I didn't think I'd see my sons grow up. And now I have grandchildren."

Both women are now cancer free and each decided to embark on a trip this summer through Above & Beyond Cancer. The charity was founded by Dr. Richard Deming and provides all different types of programs and opportunities to cancer survivors. This summer, the trek was to Mount Kilimanjaro

"We take a mountain and intentionally put it in our pathway to learn not so much to climb a mountain, but to learn what the mountain is going to teach us about ourselves about strength and resiliency and helping others along the way," said Deming, who's done a number of treks like this with patients. 

"As with every climb of mountains, not everybody makes it to the summit," he added. "You still learn a lot about yourself in the process of getting two-thirds of the way up the mountain."

With days filled with eight to 14 hours of hiking, it's not for the faint of heart.

"There is absolutely suffering, mentally and physically when you're climbing a mountain," Newman explained. "At some points, I caught myself wondering what the heck I got myself into."

But both women say it was less about making the summit, and more about battling alongside others they were deeply connected with. 

"It's that bond, you know, nobody really wants signs up for it or anything, but it but it's there," Meyer said. "And you get to know other people's stories and just admire what, what their fight was and what they've been through."

"You don't have to have the same cancer to have the same experiences or feel the same way about life," Newman added. " There's some things that you can say to, you know, other cancer survivors, and they just know."

Demming said 24 of the 31 participants made the summit. 

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