Day 14: Courage and Challenge

We made it!

At 4:30 p.m. EST, the TYL team achieved the South Pole!

The Day

We woke up the best day yet; blue sky, not one cloud to be seen. We set off early. As we walked, we could see the South Pole start to emerge on the horizon. We had to go east and east and east while the station went by on our right.

It was like having a fine plate of Soma chocolate and not being allowed to reach out and take some. We desperately wanted to go in a straight line to get to the actual South Pole, but weren’t allowed. The reason is that we would have crossed into a Neutrino field…. Really (?!?!)

Part way through the day, Dale’s poop bag unceremoniously “dumped” his wag bag on the trail. OMG. The entire team was in hysterics.

The diversion to enter into the station according to the American rules added a period of extra distance and challenge to the day. However, we pulled into the pole and there were an awful lot of tears and hugs all around.

The Team

Dale Shippam

Thirteen-year heart recipient has now skied to the North and South Pole. To our knowledge this is a world first for a heart transplant recipient. What more can be said…Dale is my hero.

Diego Delgado.

F’G INCREDIBLE. His first, last and only camping experience happened when he was only 10 years old in Argentina.  This was a hell of an initiation. He was remarkable, stalwart, a team player with a singular focus. All I can say is welcome to Test Your Limits.

Michel White.

I would go anywhere with you. This is our fourth trip (I wonder where our 5th will be….!!??) As always Michel, you more than pulled your weight. The French-English lost in translation has provided endless humour throughout the trip. Your chef and culinary skills kept Dale and Diego well fed and able to complete the trek.

Meaning

Although Dale is the most remarkable ambassador for organ donation and an inspiration to us all, my personal motivation for this trip changed on December 16th: Matt Antolin, a long-standing patient of mine and a remarkable 27-year-old man. He obtained his engineering degree despite having heart failure. Unfortunately earlier this year, his heart failure progressed, and he required a Left Ventricular Assist Device. He was listed for urgent transplant. He had a very challenging early post-operative course.

Despite this, Matt remained optimistic. When you would meet him every morning and greet him, he always had a smile on his face and despite tubes and lines and things sticking out, and some of the most challenging situations, he was always positive.

While he was in hospital, we had a lot of discussion about the Test Your Limits program because he knew about the South Pole adventure. He volunteered for and desperately wanted to go on the next Test Your Limits adventure. He went home while awaiting his heart transplant.

Unfortunately, he died suddenly on December 16 never having had the opportunity to receive a transplant, the hope and the second life that comes with transplantation.

I asked his family for a memento to take with me to the pole and they gave me his engineering ring, which I have worn around my neck.

Each time I felt tired, short of breath, miserable, I thought of Matt, his courage, his optimism… Despite a far, far greater challenge he faced, he never got down and he never gave up. Matt is a welcome member of the 2013 Test Your Limits team. He helped me achieve the pole. Thank you, Matt.

Matt’s story is but one of many patient stories of hope and challenge while waiting for a life-saving transplant. Please, register at beadonor.ca

 

14 Replies to “Day 14: Courage and Challenge”

  1. OMG…. now I am crying. I have been thinking about Matt for many a week. I am sure if he were alive today, he would have been incredibly happy for you all.

    Congratulations team TYL. Another incredible achievement. Now it’s time to get you home to your loved ones.

    Stella and I miss you and we can’t wait to see you. Diego – apparently you have a clinic Jan 15th. Good luck getting back for that.

    Incredible.

  2. Congratulations Team!!! You really are an inspiration to us all!!!

    I had just met Matt in December at the Heart Links Christmas lunch, and I definately agree he was a young man with an amazing attitude. I am sure he would be proud of you all!!

    Dale I am 7months post transplant and again I cannot tell you how you have inspired me to set my goals high and live my new life to the fullest!!! Everyday in re-hab I think of what you are doing and it really gives me incredible motivation to achieve my best! I am hoping someday we will meet in clinic!!!

    Safe trip home Team!!!!!!

    Dave A

  3. Congratulations to the entire team. To each and every individual involved you are all an inspiration. Travel safe on the way back, love and faith to you all. D&C

  4. Congrats from Vancouver team test your limits! We can’t wait to see the slide show and hear some stories! Card games and bronchitis aren’t quite as harrowing as hypothermia and pulmonary edema, but I’m sure you guys have a couple good ones.

  5. Dear Heather and TYL Team,

    Congratulations on reaching the South Pole safely!

    Matthew would have followed your blog daily as you, Diego and the rest of the TYL team trekked to the South Pole. He so wanted to be a part of a Test Your Limits team. Your heartfelt gesture of taking his engineer’s iron ring with you brings us tears of joy and sadness. Thank you for allowing Matthew to negotiate with you ways to reach his goal of becoming an engineer at Dalhousie University so long ago.

    You always allowed Matthew to see the possibilities of life. He is gone too soon and has left us with a huge void filled only with memories and dreams unfulfilled. Your work needs to continue. Come home safely and do great things for your patients and other families you may not even know yet.

    Best wishes from the Antolin Family.

  6. Congratulations Dale and Team members. It has been very exciting as a spectator and I can’t even imagine what it must be like for all of you.. What happens now that you have reached your goal….how to you get back?

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