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On October 31st and November 1st, 2014, brave participants who are fighting to end brain cancer will rappel 365 ft. and go Over the Edge for Brain Cancer (@OTE4BrainCancer). In its second year, @OTE4BrainCancer has received an overwhelming response from the San Diego community, generating a sold-out event. Eighty-two participants, known as “edgers,” will raise $200,000 for Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure to be directed to San Diego-based brain cancer research. The two-day event springs includes a list of courageous VIPs who will join the fight against brain cancer and will rappel down the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the tallest building on the San Diego waterfront. Former brain-cancer patient Monika Carlson shares her thoughts on her first rappel last year and why she’s dropping again next week.
With a racing heartbeat, I looked 365 feet over the edge of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego before rappelling for a cause that aims to save the lives of others living with the same disease I battle daily. Could I do it? Would I do it? Why was I standing here despite my fears and every nerve in my body telling me to run from this building rooftop and descend to a safer place?
I went "Over the Edge" last year to fundraise for Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) , a nonprofit that raises funds to support a cure for brain cancer. Since its inception, the organization has raised more than $22 million for brain tumor research. Each year, Over the Edge for Brain Cancer helps to bring hope and attention to this often underserved brain tumor community and uplift the many fighters battling this disease. The need to increase research funding is more urgent than ever; there are almost 700,000 people living with a primary brain tumor diagnosis in the U.S. and within the next 12 months, more than 210,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor. Even more startling than that is the fact that there have been only four therapies approved to treat brain tumors in the past 30 years, and unlike many other cancers, survival rates are not improving.
When I learned of ABC2's Over the Edge event, I immediately thought it was something that I could never bring myself to do. Sure it was for a great cause – funding brain cancer research – but it involved facing a huge fear! However, I made the decision to participate in last year's event by taking one of my favorite quotes that had helped me face great fears before to heart. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You must do the things you think you cannot do."
As the event approached, I became more and more nervous. I was afraid of falling. I was afraid of panicking on the side of the building and embarrassing or hurting myself. I was even afraid that an earthquake would hit San Diego on the day of the event while I was mid-air. Although I was paranoid about all the terrible things that might happen, I was also excited about having the opportunity to do something that most people won’t have the chance to do in their lifetime, and I was looking forward to making all of the people who had supported my fundraising proud.
In the end, none of my fears came true and I had a great time. I must admit that the first few steps off the edge of the building were terrifying, but the more I descended and the further down I dropped, the more I was smiling. Since going over the edge, I've thought about how rappelling down that building is similar to facing a life with brain cancer. They are both scary, but not impossible. You’re surrounded by a team of professionals who are looking out for your safety, and friends and family are by your side rooting for you to succeed. Facing your fears is empowering. And I’ve learned personally that courage and a fearless attitude are needed when you’re up against this terrible disease.
Rappelling down the side of a building may be scary, but it’s nothing compared to how terrifying it is to live with brain cancer, which is something I have been doing for two years. I will rappel again on November 1, 2014 at Over the Edge for Brain Cancer in San Diego to raise money for brain cancer research and raise awareness for this horrible disease. I hope that together we can find a cure for brain cancer.