In October, Sue and Tristan Irvine will take on Kilimanjaro together in support of the Leukaemia Foundation. The mother and son team from Canberra have both been touched by cancer—Sue is a breast cancer survivor and Tristan completed treatment for Leukaemia in January. They were inspired to take on this challenge together to mark the four year anniversary of Tristan’s diagnosis.

The pair have already raised almost $10,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation, who provided such wonderful support to Tristan during his three years of treatment.

Fundraising Coordinator, Kate O’Callaghan, caught up with the pair as they prepare to take on this challenge of a lifetime.

What inspired you to take on this challenge in support of the Leukaemia Foundation?

Sue: Tristan completing his three years and three months of chemotherapy for ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia). It seemed like a great way to celebrate and give back, although it’s not something I would have ever normally considered doing! The support provided by the Leukaemia Foundation you just can’t put a price on. After some thought, Tristan decided to come too!

Has Kilimanjaro always been on your bucket list?

Sue:  No! I’ve never thought about doing anything remotely like this before!

Tristan: I have some friends who have climbed Kili, so I had thought about it. But it wasn’t until Mum signed up that I had ever seriously considered it. Climbing Kilimanjaro will be a walk in the park after the last three years. Our climb will help raise the profile of the Leukaemia Foundation and enable us to give back. What’s the worst that could happen?

Have you done much travelling prior to this African adventure and what’s your best travel experience so far?

Sue: A little, but sedate compared to this—Italy, Japan, Vanuatu and a flight over Antarctica. Getting stuck in Hiroshima due to a Typhoon was memorable.

Tristan: I spent a year studying in the US. I have also been to New Zealand, Vanuatu and a short trip through Europe. I loved my year in the US. Getting a chance to go to the Super Bowl was definitely a highlight for me!

Camping in the shadow of KilimanjaroWhat are you most looking forward to on your Kilimanjaro trip?

Sue: Successfully making it to the summit!

Tristan:  Absolutely the same.

What will be the biggest challenge?

Sue: The altitude and the summit night (waking at midnight to complete the eight hour trek to the top).

Tristan:  I’ve been thinking recently about how I’ll manage without my coffee! But more likely, the cold on summit night and the altitude.

Do you think your relationship will be put to the test on the mountain?

Sue:  No—we’ve been through a lot over the past few years. This will be fantastic to do together.

Tristan:  I agree, I think we will be great. But maybe ask me again at midnight on the summit night!

Sue:  Yes I agree, summit night might test our relationship! I can already hear Tristan saying “Come on Mum, forget the cold. Remember we’re excited!”

What have you been doing to get yourself in shape for the mountain?

Sue: Walking, stationary bike rides and some gym work.

Tristan: Lots of walking when I can. I have also started building up a bit of work load in the gym and riding a stationary bike.

Do you have any fundraising tips to share with our current and future adventurers?

Sue: Plan, ask for help, don’t stop badgering friends and acquaintances, tell your story. We’ve found fundraising for the travel component the most challenging.

Tristan: Just getting the word out helps. People have been more than willing to help once they know the story and what their support would mean.

Good luck Sue and Tristan!

Itching for a new challenge? Check out our upcoming adventures in our 2018 Calendar!