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Vanderbilt woman preps for climb

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

“One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and only half of them will be tied to genetic inheritance, diet and reproductive history,” said a supporter of the Breast Cancer Fund and a participant of the upcoming Climb Against the Odds event.

Kelly Miller, 31, of Vanderbilt will be participating in Climb Against the Odds and will scale the 14,179-foot Mt. Shasta in Northern California.

The mission is to raise awareness for breast cancer and breast cancer prevention.

The four-day hiking trip begins June 16 and will take 40 climbers.

According to the breast cancer fund website, breastcancerfund.org, “Each climber will arrive with very personal reasons to climb, yet together the team will show anything is possible with mutual support, determination and hard work.”

Miller decided to climb because her aunt, Iris Lancaster, was diagnosed and survived breast cancer.

Lancaster will not be climbing this year. Instead, she is helping to coordinate the climb.

“I think everyone knows someone with this diagnosis,” Miller said. “I guess you can say I'm taking the reins this year.”

Although this climb will mark Miller's first time scaling a mountain of this size, she has been physically preparing for it and plans to hold several fundraising events.

In the months to come, Miller plans to hold a lottery-style cash bash fundraiser. Consol Energy has plans to donate, she said.

As for her physical preparation, not only has she passed the event health requirements but she has been hiking on the weekends and is familiar with the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Ohiopyle.

She is confident that she will be able to reach the summit.

“I'll get there,” she said.

Climbing Mt. Shasta is not the only way in which Miller honors the goals of the breast cancer fund.

According to the breast cancer fund, research has shown that environmental factors play a significant role in diagnosis of breast cancer. Specifically the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) which is found in canned foods and cosmetics.

As a result, Miller tries to buy BPA-free foods and cosmetics, even though they are seldom found in supermarkets.

“I was surprised by the amount of products I used that were not as clean as I thought,” she said.

Apart from Climb Against the Odds, Miller will be running for breast cancer in a Pittsburgh-based 5-kilometer run called the “Dirty Girl Mud Run” in early June.

She also has plans to participate in a Philadelphia-based run for the Wounded Warrior Project called the “Tough Mudder” in early June.

Those interested in donating to the breast cancer fund should visit www.breastcancerfund.org/donate or contact Marla Stein at mstein@breastcancerfund.org or 866-760-8223, ext. 30.

Andrew Hesner is a freelance writer.

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