Welcome to my "Climb to Fight Cancer" Web Page

Donate to Marina in 2019
Amount Raised
105 percent of goal achieved.
Goal: $5,500.00
Achieved: $5,793.00
Fundraising Honor Roll

The Call

I will never forget the call.

My cell phone chimes, and I see it is my sister, and cheerfully answer, "Hello!".



My sister's voice tells me she has cancer. Specifically a blood cancer called non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

More stunned silence. 

Then tears. Questions. Raw emotion. Confusion. Anger. Fear. More questions. Sadness.

It was June of 2011, and ironically, just 2 weeks prior, I had climbed and summited Mt. Hood for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 

One Step at a Time

A couple of decades ago, I found myself interested in climbing mountains. Not really sure why, other than I hung out with people who were putting one foot in front of the other in order not only reach the summit of a mountain, but to get through this thing called 'life'. I enjoyed the challenge and the fellowship of accomplishing such a daunting task of climbing all 14,411 feet and standing at the top of a mountain like Mt. Rainier. 

In 1994, I achieved that dream and it was astonishing and breathtaking. Literally. :) After months of training, I couldn't believe I did it. And I caught the climbing bug. I summited other peaks including Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker. 

In 1999, exactly 20 years ago, I was presented with a unique idea: Climb a mountain to fight breast cancer for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. After about 2 seconds of contemplation, I was on board. All in. I trained and collected donations, then proudly stood at the top of Mt. Baker. In the ensuing years, I would go on to take on Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Baker once again, all in the name of raising money for cancer research. 

What it means to me

In 2011, in the wake of my Mt. Hood summit for the Hutch, after my sister gave me the news about having non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I had a very personal reason for climbing. It had always meant something, but now it was personal to the core. My father had died in 1997 of cancer as well. 22 years ago, the science was good. But now, it's even better.

How is my sister now? 8 years after her initial diagnosis, countless chemo and radiation treatments as well as experimental trials, I am happy to say my sister Trina is as close to remission as one can get with a blood cancer.  

This year, on the anniversary of my first climb for the Hutch, I will climb Mt. Rainier. 

Please make a gift

If it wasn't for the research at the Fred Hutch, I am convinced my sister would not be where she is in her cancer battle.

Please click on the "Donate" button above to give to the Climb to Fight Cancer. Every gift helps!


My Climb Journal


Rosaries and Treadmills
Do you need to pray you are going to make it through a workout!? Sometimes it feels like it!
As I recently did a warm up walk on the treadmill before one of my gym workouts, it reminded me of the time I saw a woman who may have been worried she wasn't going to make it...
I posted the following on my blog, but thought you might enjoy it here:
Dateline: Somewhere in Suburbia
She's praying the rosary. The beads are strung in and out of her fingers as her thumb pulls each one to the side, as if counting them. She puts her delicate hands to her lips then whispers what I can only guess to be the Lord's Prayer, or, perhaps a custom beseeching of her own. Has she prayed for a safe outcome? Is she worried she won't make it to the end? Is she afraid of the pain that is sure to follow?
Seems like an odd place to pray the rosary, but who am I to judge where people find their reassurance and motivation? She crosses herself, then without warning, her arms and legs are flailing. This poor woman has chosen to endure the forced coordination of none other than: The elliptical machine. No wonder she's praying her rosary. I would need the blessings of the Pope himself just to stay upright on that monstrosity. Forget that noise.
I, instead, choose the treadmill. Typically, I prefer running outside, but the treadmill offers me something I can't easily achieve on my own: Buttons that make me run faster.
"WTF, why the hell would you want to run FASTER?"
Fortunately, I only do it for 10 minutes during a common torture practice known as HIIT. Appropriately named, it makes you want to HIT someone once you've regained your ability to breathe. HIIT is High Intensity Interval Training. It's usually done in a short amount of time, where you go balls-to-the-wall, or whatever the female equivalent (vag-to-the-mat?), for short bursts, followed by all-too-short recovery times. Its supposed to improve your cardio while boosting fat burning, or some shit.
I look to my left, then to my right. The row of treadmills is extensive, and I spy the closest one available. I mean, who wants to have to walk so far to find a damn treadmill? I step up and realize it's covered in splashes of what I hope is spilled water bottle, but know in my heart it's the sweat of some poor soul before me who may or may not have survived self-immolation on the churning belt.
Most of the others are occupied. There's a woman wearing street clothes, casually walking at a speed so slow, that I can only describe it as lackadaisical. She simply doesn't give a shit. I think I love her.
I take my place on what will be the bane of my existence for the next 10 minutes. I psyche myself up. "You got this, Em. It's only ten minutes of your friggin' life. TEN minutes. You can do this."
I start with a warm-up, emulating the lethargic lumber of my new best friend over on treadmill #6. But five very short minutes later, I am running for my life.
It's the kind of running you do in dreams where some faceless assailant is chasing you with a rusty scimitar. Not only has the speed dramatically increased, but so has the incline, to what I believe might be the Mt. Everest setting.
Christ on a cracker, what have I done to myself? I have to maintain this insanity for the next 40 seconds? I am going to die. I AM GOING TO DIE.
I look down at the timer. 32....31....
Less than 10 seconds since this self-imposed torment started.
Time has become irrelevant. I'm in a Kafkaesque nightmare where I'm forced for all of eternity to serve hard-labour on this inexorable, moving monster.
Where am I? Are my legs still attached?
My god. I've done it. I survived. I am now rewarded with 40 beautiful seconds of a well deserved respite. Sweet relief.
What the actual fuck? Where's my 40 seconds? I WANT MY 40 SECONDS!
Poof, just like that, I'm back up to speed and have exactly one thought:
Does anyone have a rosary handy?

by Marina Rockinger on Tue, Jun 04, 2019 @ 3:25 PM

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The Scarecrow Lied
That way is a very nice way...it's pleasant down that way too.
-Scarecrow, Wizard of Oz
Except, the scarecrow lied. Only one way was going to be nice. The other: a relentless ass-kicking.
I set out on a familiar running route. At about 2 miles I have a choice. I could either go right. Or turn around and do an 'out and back'.
I considered the options. Ugh. I REALLY didn't want to deal with slogging up such an unforgiving hill.
Turning back is a much easier endeavor. FLAT.
What to do...what to do. My running partners were no help. The boys of Fabriq (pop-funk duo from L.A.) were too busy singing to me about Serotonin. Their dancy Jamiroquai/Justin Timberlake/Pharrell inspired sound kept me distracted just enough, that by the time I would have made the decision, my body turned right.
Now here's the thing, I am essentially lazy. It's like the scene early in "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" where they leave the apartment, get halfway down the hallway and Kumar realizes he forgot his cell phone. Harold asks him if he wants to get it and Kumar looks 10 feet toward the apartment door and says "No, we've gone too far".
I was already heading up that hill and thought, Kumar, you have a point. I've gone too far.
I put my head down, mentally will one foot in front of the other, and push my reluctant ass forward. I know this hill very well. I've run it countless times, and it never, EVER gets easier.
I shake my angry fist to the skies, sweating like a celebrity parent caught bribing college officials.
I find relief at the top of the hill, congratulating myself for not dying mid-stride. My running turns to skipping as a big, goofy-ass grin appears on my face. I look around to see who might have witnessed such a feat of determination. I see an older lady in her over-sized visor, walking her mini-poodle. But she's not even looking at me. She's busy examining, then picking up little Bitsy's dog shit.
Oh well. I forgive the Scarecrow and head home, happy with today's accomplishment.

by Marina Rockinger on Wed, May 01, 2019 @ 1:03 PM

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Cancer strikes our family once again
Earlier this month, on March 5th, I announced that I was once again going to join the Climb to Fight Cancer for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with my sister's battle, 8 years later, still my focus for why I am doing this.
That SAME day...you know, the one I just mentioned? My mother-in-law is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Damn. (NOT the word I was thinking when she told us)
When someone very close to you has been diagnosed with cancer, you experience a cyclone of emotion.
I have talked about the whirlwind my mind battled when my sister was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2011, ironically just two weeks after I climbed a mountain to raise money for cancer research.
So here we are. Things are moving very quickly for my husband's mother, Marsha. In just 3 weeks, she has had numerous tests, imaging, a biopsy, and a port has been embedded in anticipation of chemotherapy. So far, her diagnosis is promising. The doctors say her tumor is of a reasonable size and the cancer has not been detected elsewhere. When her bilirubin numbers come down, her special chemo-cocktail will begin.
She has a long road ahead of her, all of us are rallying around her as she takes this thing on.
Why do I climb? Why am I going to put my body through such an exhausting, and to be honest, dangerous venture?
Because of my sister. Because of my mother-in-law. Because of my father who died in 1997 after a 1 year battle. Because of the numerous family members I have lost.
Because of cancer.
And it sucks more than the temporary discomfort I will feel climbing Mt.Rainier.
I have to raise $5500 for the climb in July. Won't you please consider donating? Doesn't matter the number. Just know your donation goes to the research that is vital to ending cancer. Or at least letting people live out their lives with cancer.

by Marina Rockinger on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 @ 2:33 PM

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The Mountain is out!
This past Sunday, as Steve and I enjoyed a crisp, gorgeous day riding the ferry from Kingston to Edmonds, I stood on the deck and looked to the south.
There she was: Mt.Rainier. Stunning as always.

I contemplated my upcoming climb of the challenging beauty. I was fortunate to summit Mt. Rainier 25 years ago. Now, I am doing it again. I am much older but just as determined.
I hope you will follow along for the ride, and look forward to standing atop her peak, knowing the money raised will help people like my sister who are in the real battle.

by Marina Rockinger on Tue, Mar 05, 2019 @ 4:32 PM

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