Hope is on the horizon for WeighMyRack’s Founder. After receiving radiation and chemo treatment at the University of Washington’s Alvord Brain Tumor Center, things have been improving. I (Alison) will have my tumor forever due to the inoperable location, but the tumor cells do not show any replication signals. My neuro-oncologist has given me permission to use the word “remission.”

I am not actively receiving any treatment and there are no future plans for treatment, unless additional cancer cells are detected (a recurrence). I will have an MRI to check in on the ol’ noggin in Nov, 2021, and about every 6 months after that for at least 5 years.

My brain doctors are nearly giddy while listening to what I’ve been up to physically, and comparing that with my status less than a year ago when I had minimal use of the left side of my body.

This winter I bought nordic skis and did a few cross-country adventures, instead of downhill skiing.

In Feb, Andreas and I spent a week in Oregon and accidentally went on a 12-mile waterfall hike, on mostly snowy/icy (quite uneven) terrain.

In May, for my birthday weekend, Andreas and I entered a navigation race and went cross-country for 35 miles in a 12-hour span. I tried to explain to my aghast doctors: But we walked! Previously I would have run!

In June, before we left Washington, I did my first rock climb since finding the tumor and since then we’ve climbing in Illinois, Wyoming, and Colorado.

We also met my Dad and brother+gf in Michigan for an overnight canoe trip and a 6-hour kayak adventure.

In July, we went to Lander for the International Climbers Festival, and shortly after I overnight backpacked 20+ miles with a friend at 10k elevation in the Uinta Mountains in Utah.

I’ve even taken my mountain bike out on a couple of rides. This is particularly notable because the physical therapist said mountain biking should be last on my list of expectations. I’m not super stable, but I’m not ping-ponging from side to side of the trail like I was on my last ride before going to the ER.

Speaking of which, I essentially got kicked out of physical therapy in February because they felt my balance issues were not threatening. Despite me telling the docs: My balance is horrible! Apparently I have high expectations.

I do have an observably weaker left side and I am particularly unbalanced while wearing a pack.

Fatigue and a lack of short term memory are my most notable symptoms currently. Some days my energy levels are so low that it’s hard to do much more than lay down for a big chunk of the day.

My other symptoms are more manageable.

For example, I now have a pair of glasses because somehow the tumor has caused my eyes to point slightly inward, which can cause double vision – the lens’ of my glasses have prisms that correct for this.

Pre-tumor I made the majority of meals, while now, Andreas has thankfully taken on the brunt of the cooking. I am grateful for all of his assistance in daily life and his unwavering love and support. He’s made this recovery process substantially easier and smoother.

Progress on WeighMyRack will continue for me, albeit at a slower pace. I wake up every day wanting to work on WeighMyRack (I see it’s future, I want to get us there!), yet my body often says that’s not the best idea. I have to remind myself that I’m still less than a year out from treatment and that rest days are quite necessary.

Pre-tumor I had a lot of energy. I felt like I had a big bucket of physical energy and and a big bucket of mental energy, and I could pull from both daily. Now it seems like I only have one smaller bucket of energy and I can either do something physical or do something mental, but can’t do both well. It’s been hard to find balance in that way.

I am so thankful to have had Adnan and Shahriar working on WeighMyRack, keeping the site running and update to date with all the new gear, while I’ve been recovering.

To help boost WeighMyRack back up, on Aug 1st, we officially invited Jeff Jaramillo to join the team in a full capacity. We have so many places to go and so much is in store! We’ve been working behind the scenes with Jeff for months and can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.

Cheers to the future!

Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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