At Qhubeka, we are often amazed by our supporters’ passion and creativity, but Jarrod McGorian has truly inspired us with his courage and tenacity.
Jarrod lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and has battled bladder cancer for just under 10 years. “To date, I have undergone 31 operations and a lot of chemotherapy to cure me of the disease,” he explains. “Unfortunately, I was recently told that the cancer has spread into my right ureter. Due to this, I now need to have a cystectomy and bladder reconstruction.”
Jarrod decided that before he undergoes this operation, he wanted to attempt an “Everesting” for Qhubeka and two other charities. “This is a cycling challenge whereby you select a hill anywhere in the world. You then climb that same hill as many times as it takes to reach the total elevation of Mr. Everest – 8 848m,” he says.
Summitting the height of Mt. Everest by riding a peak multiple times is similar in some ways to Jarrod’s journey fighting cancer. “Instead of repeated laps up and down a hill, it has been operation after operation, chemotherapy after chemotherapy. The challenge is a physical representation of the mental game I have been playing for 10 years,” he says. “I knew after reading about the Everesting challenge that I would attempt it.”
Not only did he decide to take this epic challenge on, but he decided to do it to raise funds for three charities, one of which was Qhubeka. He and his loyal buddy Dan chose Northcliff hill in Johannesburg as their location.
“The route is nothing glamorous; it’s practical and will serve the purpose,” Jarrod says. “The initial calculation said it would take us approximately 58 laps (58 times up, 58 times down), a time of 23 hours, and a total distance of approximately 290km to complete it. This needed to be done in a single attempt with no sleep.”
On 12 October, Dan and Jarrod, with another friend, Mark, arrived at Northcliff hill, ready to start their Everesting attempt at 7pm, aiming to complete the challenge by 7pm the following evening. The intrepid riders did it – they achieved their goal! Total riding time 28 hours, distance covered 292 kms and elevation gain of 8914 m.
“Everesting was the toughest physical feat of my life to date. It perfectly represented my battle with cancer. Just as I have endured the pain and anguish of cancer, I endured the pain and anguish of climbing those mammoth metres. But, as I said in my blog, I have never fought cancer alone – Everesting was no different, and that is where I find such beauty,” he says. “The support was nothing short of incredible! I truly could not have done it alone.”
Jarrod says he hopes that what people will take away from his Everesting is that they are capable of far greater than they probably think. “My biggest climb prior to the Everesting was 3 000 metres. I thought my physical capability was inadequate to complete the whole challenge. My intention with the attempt was to complete it as a collective. But, as the event grew nearer, and with the number of people getting involved, I knew doing anything less than the full Everest was not acceptable. I told Dan a day or two before the challenge that I was going to do the whole thing. I wasn’t going to do anything less. I proved to myself once again that the biggest limitations I will ever experience will be those I place on myself,” he says. “The other thing I want you to take away from this is that you have a choice in every crap hand that is dealt your way. It doesn’t matter how bad it may be, you can choose to do something positive with it. I managed to turn the worst news I have ever heard into something that will benefit so many others. Our lives in number of days are truly meaningless if they are not used productively. Choose to be positive, and choose to do good.”
Jarrod is still facing his biggest mountain ahead – a radical cystectomy on the 30th November 2019. But he remains resolute. “Despite my fears — fear of not waking from the operation, fear of something going wrong, and fear of the new life — I will not back down. It’s not an option. Cancer will not defeat me. Simple,” he says. “My children have a book called Going on a bear hunt. It’s about a family going in search of a bear. As they set off, they are met with various challenges. A phrase is repeated at each of these challenges, “we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we have to go through it”. This simple phrase resonates so much with me. I can’t go over it, I can’t go under it, I have to go through it.”
Jarrod’s fundraising campaign is still open. If you would like to show your support of his Everesting and his taking on of mountains of all shapes and forms, you can donate here.
From Qhubeka’s side, we are thankful to Jarrod for commitment and for the 10 bicycles he has funded to date, which will change people’s lives by helping them to conquer their own mountains. And we wish him all the best for his surgery and hope that it is a complete success.
Thank you, Jarrod. You are an inspiration to us all.