‘We all have our own walls to climb’: Leukaemia patient embarking on mountain trek in aid of hospital

Scaling a sheer cliff face which towers more than 3000 feet above a sprawling valley is a prospect that would bring many of us out in a cold sweat.

But this time next week, climbing fanatic Scott Soithongsuk will be doing just that.

The 29-year-old daredevil, who is a leukaemia patient at the Hammersmith Hospital in west London, will travel to California to complete a four-day mountain climb to raise money for Imperial College Healthcare Charity.

“I get butterflies in my stomach every time I think about it,” he said.

Accompanied by his girlfriend Jo, Scott will cross the pond tomorrow for a three-week trip during which the pair will tackle the ‘Nose’ route up the El Capitan Mountain which looms over Yosemite National Park.

scott-3ADVENTUROUS: Scott doesn’t let his cancer stop him

Scott, who lives in Luton and first started climbing at university, suffers from chronic myeloid leukaemia, a blood cancer affecting the myeloid cells, and has faced some difficult challenges since his diagnosis nine years ago.

“The previous medication I was on meant permanent tiredness, muscle fatigue and a lot of sickness, including anaemia,” he said.

“It was something you just had to grin and bear.”

However, with the support of his loved-ones, Scott defied his symptoms and reignited his climbing passion.

“When I was first diagnosed in 2007, my doctor told me to take it easy and opt for a simple, peaceful life, which really frustrated me because I had so many things I wanted to do,” he said.

“It was down to my brother and sister literally dragging me out of bed that I rediscovered my love for climbing.”

The incredibly steep Nose route which snakes up El Capitan’s sheer face is notoriously difficult to climb and few people make it to the peak.

But Scott and Jo, who hatched the plan in January, are ready for the adventure which will see them climb approximately 300m each day carrying their food and equipment, and sleep on rock ledges at night.

scott-1AMBITIOUS COUPLE: Scott and Jo

The pair aim to capture their journey up El Capitan on camera to inspire others and encourage cancer sufferers to never give up on their ambitions.

“I believe that if you’re truly passionate about what you do, you’ll simply pick yourself up again if you get knocked down,” he said.

Scott and Jo have already raised £260 for Imperial College Healthcare Charity’s Blood Fund, which supports Hammersmith Hospital’s haematology department.

The charity generates funds for five London hospitals that constitute the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which delivers acute and specialist medical care to approximately one million people every year.

It has awarded Hammersmith, Charing Cross, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea, St Mary’s and Western Eye hospitals more than £34million in grants since 2009 to invest in hundreds of research pieces and projects to better patient healthcare.

“I know climbing the Nose is going to be harder than anything I’ve done before, but I’m willing to give it my all,” he said.

“The thought of getting to the top puts a huge smile on my face.”

The pair will set off on Saturday, October 8. To sponsor them, click here.

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