Climb4Life raises awareness of ovarian cancer |

Climb4Life raises awareness of ovarian cancer

Sean Patrick founded the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation to help women recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Patrick, who passed away in 2009, also established the Climb4Life events that help raise funds for HERA. (Courtesy of the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation)

Parkite Lisa Curley remembered when her friend Sean Patrick was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Patrick, who was 44 at the time she began feeling sick, knew something was wrong and sought medical help, but it took doctors 2½ years to give her an accurate diagnosis.

Unfortunately, during that period, the cancer had spread to the point where it couldn’t be stopped and, after multiple surgeries, Patrick passed away on Jan. 20, 2009, Curley said.

"She kept going to different doctors and said there was something wrong with her, but they kept dismissing her," Curley told The Park Record. "The symptoms of ovarian cancer are very much like gastrointestinal disorders and include abdominal pressure, bloating, nausea, indigestion, gas, urinary frequency, constipation or diarrhea, abnormal bleeding, shortness of breath, unexplained weight gain or loss.

"These are all real symptoms and can get misconstrued or dismissed," she said. "So Sean decided to start a foundation that would empower women to take control of their health by educating them about the symptoms of ovarian cancer."

One in 72 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

In 2013, it is estimated that about 22,240 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer and about 14,230 women will die from the disease, Curley said.

"With early detection, about 94 percent will survive longer than five years after diagnosis," she said.

Patrick established the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation that would fund medical research and help women learn about their bodies in order to catch the early warning signs of the cancer.

"She named the foundation HERA, which, of course is the Greek goddess of women and the wife of Zeus and was considered the protector of women," Curley said. "HERA — is also an acronym for health, empowerment, research and awareness."

As with any foundation, money is needed to fulfill its mission, so Patrick started the Climb4Life Utah event 12 years ago.

"Sean used her cancer diagnosis as a metaphor to inspire us and go beyond our comfort zone, push ourselves and reset our boundaries," Curley said. "Rock climbing encompasses many of these qualities — problem solving, taking calculated risks and keeping in mind your physical and mental challenges. So it fits perfectly."

Climb4Life Utah is a three-day event where participants climb, dine and wine, Curley said.

"Of course we don’t do all that at the same time," she said with a laugh.

The event kicks off this year on Friday, Sept. 13, with a meet-and-greet at Cafe Trio, 6405 S. 3000 East in Cottonwood, with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

The cost is $75 to participate in all three days.

On Saturday morning, everyone meets at Black Diamond, 2084 E. 3900 South in Holladay, and breaks into groups and goes climbing in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons, Curley said.

"We come back in the afternoon and later that evening we’ll have a party at Black Diamond," she explained. "The cost to only attend the party is $25 and includes dinner, drinks, a silent auction and a little dancing to a DJ.

"What I like about the Saturday activities is that if there are people who don’t want to climb, they can participate in outdoor photography workshops or just come to the dinner," Curley said.

The group will meet again Sunday morning for some more climbing.

"After that, we’ll meet once more time at Black Diamond for an opportunity drawing with a lot of swag," Curley said. "It’s a unique event and more intimate than other events."

Curley, who has been on the Climb4Life Utah committee for nine years, said she would like to see more support from Park City residents this year.

"We’re also doing a family climb on Saturday, and if people don’t want to do the whole weekend, they can just come out on Saturday," she said. "We’ll have all different levels of climbers participating and we’ll have guides, so it will be a safe environment for everyone."

Every year Climb4Life participants include cancer survivors and people who have lost loved ones, Curley said.

"Sean’s legacy has touched thousands of women and she was one of the most compassionate and selfless people that I have ever met in my life," Curley said. "She was so dedicated to making a change, because cancer affects everyone."

The 12th annual Climb4Life Utah will be held Friday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept. 15, at Black Diamond, 2084 E. 3900 South in Salt Lake City. Registration is being accepted at

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