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'We live always knowing we're going to die, but we don't think about it'

Peter Milne is in the middle of a very inspirational challenge.
May 23rd 2015, 7:15 PM 23,491 15
WHEN YOU HAVE cancer the focus is on enjoying the now and the moment.
Everyone’e going to die.
You don’t know with these drugs how much time it will leave you…Anyone could get run over by a bus.
We live always knowing that we’re going to die, but we don’t think about it.

Peter Milne climbed Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, today.

Next on the list are Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, the highest peaks in England and Scotland. The latter is the highest mountain in the British Isles.

He also recently scaled Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest peak.

20150509_110140 Peter at the Carrauntoohil summit.

On his various climbs, he has been or will be joined by various family members and friends, including his wife Bernie.

Peter (62) was diagnosed with secondary kidney cancer in 2014. It is inoperable.

Here he describes his experiences of the last year, and making the difficult decision to retire early from teaching:

I was diagnosed with secondary kidney cancer in the lymph nodes back in May last year. I travel to St Vincent’s in Dublin for treatment every six weeks, to Dublin rather than Galway because the original kidney cancer was removed there back in 2008. They said then that it was gone and as likely to return as for anyone else.

“I was called for annual scans and they were all clear until March 2014. That led to a biopsy being taken and confirmation of the return of the cancer. They said I was very unlucky.

“I was put on treatment Sutent. Initially it just left me exhausted. I struggled to the end of term, but realised that the demands of teaching made staying at work impossible.

They have adjusted doses and it has got easier though at times I still get very, very tired. But counselling sessions at the Cancer Support Centre, a wonderful partner in Bernie, and the mountain climbing have all done wonders for energy levels.

“And being out on a regular basis, with a different focus, has been great therapy. Bernie and I have so enjoyed our local mountains here in Sligo, we fallen in love with them again, and I don’t think the hiking will stop when the project is over. Paradoxically we have not been so fit for a long time.”

20150509_122830 (1) Peter and Bernie on Carrauntoohil.

Peter wanted to raise €1,000 for Sligo Cancer Support Centre through a series of sponsored mountain climbs. So far, he has doubled that – with fundraising still underway.

Peter moved here from England in 2001 and has worked as a learning resource teacher at Rathcormac National School in Sligo for 12 years. He brought his sixth class students mountain climbing at the end of each academic year, and plans to do this again when he returns from the UK.

Peter said the support centre has been “excellent in terms of making it normal” and “refocusing” him.

20150509_125901 (1) Peter and friends on Carrauntoohil.

He noted that the diagnosis has been particularly difficult for his wife, Bernie, and their two children, Sinéad and Ronan.

Peter said he and Bernie have “really fallen in love with the hills” through their fundraising efforts.

We are enjoying the now of it all. Yes, taking care of health as far as possible, but enjoying life to the full and leaving the future to be what it is.

More information on Peter’s ‘Climb Every Mountain’ challenge can be found here. To donate, click here.

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Órla Ryan

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