In October of 2015, Justin Bryan endured a 10-day trek up 19,341 feet of elevation as he scaled the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Not too shabby for a man who was told 12 years earlier that he would need to have his leg amputated due to EHE.
The year was 2003, and Bryan was serving his country in the United States Air Force when doctors informed him he had cancer in his right leg. After two masses were removed, the disease was also found in his leg’s bone and soft tissue.
“As a young person, you’re thinking how the rest of your life is going to be changed, if you even have a rest of your life,” Bryan said recently. “Certainly I was worried about dying, about it killing me. I was worried about losing my leg.”
Accompanied by his family, Bryan received a second opinion from an oncologist who felt the isolated nature of the cancer made it a prime candidate for radiation. Though the EHE in his leg was not completely eradicated, it has remained indolent and has not spread.
Two years ago, his wife Kate got the news most loving wives likely dread: her husband was planning to climb a mountain. Not just any mountain, but the highest summit in Africa, one that is well above the life-threatening high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) elevation grade.
But as an EHE warrior, Justin is all too familiar with life-threatening challenges. Along with three friends, “Tuff” also made the trip up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Tuff is the new mascot for The EHE Foundation, and Bryan wanted the furry stuffed animal to reach the peak with him to prove to other EHEers they can still achieve amazing things.
For more information on Justin’s incredible journey, visit http://www.thesmallthingsblog.com/2015/10/climbing-mt-kilimanjaro.