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Breast Cancer Survivors and Supporters Complete Expedition of Mt. Shasta

27 women take part in Breast Cancer Fund’s Climb Against the Odds to promote prevention

CONTACT: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246;

Attention reporters: Climbers are available for interviews. High-resolution images from the Climb are available.

Mt. Shasta, Calif.&emdash;Yesterday 27 breast cancer survivors and women touched by the disease successfully completed their expedition of Northern California’s 14,179-foot Mount Shasta in the name of breast cancer prevention. So far, the Breast Cancer Fund’s Climb Against the Odds 2012 has raised over $400,000 to support the organization’s work to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.

The 2012 Climb Against the Odds team hails from eight states: California, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. The participants trained in regional teams since January, and came together from June 17 to 23 at the foot of Mt. Shasta, the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range, measuring several hundred feet short of Mt. Rainier.

The team’s summit attempt began on Wednesday, June 20 hours before sunrise when the team departed Hidden Valley base camp (9,400 feet), making their way across the snow with their headlamps and by the light of the moon and stars. They left in small rope teams at staggered intervals and headed across the first snow field on the approach to the west face under moonlight. As the sun rose in the cloudless sky, the team enjoyed near perfect climbing conditions.

Each climber reached new heights on her journey (21 reached the summit), and each had very personal motivations to climb—to honor her own or her loved ones’ experience with cancer. All climbers share a commitment to breast cancer prevention.

For Teasha Curren, from Crescent City, Calif., attempting to reach the summit was a personal celebration of getting through her breast cancer treatments, as well as a tribute to the courage of those who have faced or lost their lives to this disease. In January 2011, at 31 years old and with no known family history, Teasha was diagnosed with stage-1 invasive ductal carcinoma. In September, she finished nine months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and soon after joined the Climb Against the Odds team. As she transitions from active treatment to survivorship, Teasha says that training for the climb has made her feel stronger every day, and that having a goal to climb Mt. Shasta has led to a quicker recovery. “Mt. Shasta welcomed us,” said Teasha. “I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

A 1992 Olympic skier from Steamboat Springs, Colo., Tarsha Ebbern was inspired to join the Climb to be an advocate for prevention and to honor the memory of her loved ones who have faced cancer. She said the climb changed her life. “My universe has shifted from this climb,” Tarsha said. “I helped two women under 35 who are survivors reach the summit. I’ve never had a prouder moment. It was a celebration of courage and hope.”

Alisa Johnson of Montague, Calif., who decided to climb to honor her stepmother Leslie who lost her life to breast cancer, and because she was inspired by the work of the Breast Cancer Fund, said she’d very thankful for the experience. “It was awesome up there! I felt honored to be part of it,” Alisa said. “I live in Shasta, but had never climbed the mountain. On the summit I got to honor all of the people I was climbing for and fly prayer flags with their names. The group of women is amazing—all 27 of them.” As this year’s Shasta community climber, all of the funds Alisa raised support Breast Cancer Services of Siskiyou County.

An alarming 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and only half of these cases can be tied to traditional risk factors like genetic inheritance, diet and reproductive history. More and more scientific evidence is linking breast cancer to the chemicals in our everyday environment—chemicals in our food, our products, our air and our water. More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals are registered for use in the United States. Fewer than 10 percent have ever been fully tested for their health effects. The Breast Cancer Fund is the only national breast cancer organization focused solely on breast cancer prevention through working to identify and eliminate the environmental causes.

“The Breast Cancer Fund embraces mountain climbing as a metaphor for the critical work we are doing to prevent the environmental causes of this devastating disease,” said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund. “We apply our courage and faith that anything is possible, if taken one step at a time. And we do it all as part of a team, knowing that there is more that we can achieve together than apart.”

Lead sponsors of the Climb are LUNA, Clif Bar Family Foundation, The North Face and Boarding for Breast Cancer. Other Climb sponsors include Osprey Packs, Ibex, Outdoor Research, Leki USA, Ahnu, Julbo, Klean Kanteen, Smartwool, Adventure Medical Kits, Princeton Tec, Pentax Imaging Company, Beyond Coastal, Pistil, Sterling Rope, Jetboil, Chums, Scarpa North America and Shasta Mountain Guides.

This climb followed in the tradition of the Breast Cancer Fund’s past expeditions: Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina (1995); Mt. McKinley, Alaska (1998); Mt Fuji, Japan (2000), Mt. Rainier, Wash. (2005), and Mt. Shasta, Calif. (2003-04; 2006-11).

Read all about what happened on the mountain—from reaching base camp to setting out at 2:30 a.m. to summiting—at the Breast Cancer Fund’s blog

Get more event information at

Read climber bios at

Donate to the Climb at