Laurie Normandeau plans to be the first American female to reach the summit of the seven tallest mountains in the world — and she’ll do it in the …
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Laurie Normandeau plans to be the first American female to reach
the summit of the seven tallest mountains in the world — and she’ll
do it in the name of breast cancer research.
In June she will set out to scale Mount McKinley in Alaska, the
coldest mountain of all, as part of her “Power of Seven”
Since 2004 she has raised almost $40,000 for the Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center and has climbed Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus,
and Aconcagua in her attempt to help find the cure for breast
During the next seven months she will not only be preparing for
the physical challenge but will be raising $12,500 for the
expedition. She hopes to have much of the funds raised by
An avid rock climber for more than 20 years, and now a trained
mountaineer, the Littleton resident says she sees more value in
raising the money for research than climbing the mountains.
At 20,320 feet, Denali (Mount McKinley) lies at the Arctic
Circle and is known in the climbing world for its sub-zero
temperatures, harsh weather conditions and extreme physical
demands. It requires more vertical climbing than on Mount
“Yet, despite these extreme challenges, I know that my trials
will be trivial compared to those experienced by the victims of
cancer,” the outdoor recreation specialist said.
“I view the process of climbing a mountain as somewhat parallel
to those who battle cancer,” she said. “Support from friends and
loved ones is critical. Having the right resources is crucial. The
physical and mental challenges of the struggle are fatiguing. You
are taken out of your comfort zone into the unknown, and
maintaining hope, even without guarantee of a positive ending, is
Her motivation for climbing is simple. Like so many others, she
has lost her mother, and other close family members and friends to
cancer and has been touched deeply by the realization that unless
everyone becomes involved, and is willing to be part of the effort,
there will be no cure.
To honor the cause, she will carry her “name banner’ to the top
of the mountain, which has already accompanied her to the summits
of Kilimanjaro, Africa in 2004, Mt. Elbrus, Russia in 2006, and
Aconcagua, Argentina in 2008.
“It’s a way in which we can give honor and remembrance to those
who have been diagnosed with cancer, have survived cancer or lost
the final battle,” she said.
Among the names embroidered into the banner are those of her
mother, Loreen Mae Woodward, and her father, Hugh Charles Combs.
Her grandmother, Dorothy Woodward, is a breast cancer survivor.
“I and countless other women have benefited from the research
conducted by FHCRC and other research centers, said Jeanine Camp,
cancer survivor and friend of Normandeau’s.
“On a personal note, because of new research, I did not have to
undergo medical procedures that may have impacted the quality of my
life. Instead I am able to continue pursuing the outdoor activities
that I love so dearly.”
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