OCA Volunteer Team returns successfully from Mount Kilimanjaro

Muscat: Oman Cancer Association’s (OCA) 20 member team returned home on June 30th after successfully completing scaling the Mount Kilimanjaro with the message loud and clear – ‘Physical activity is part of cancer prevention and control.

One of the team members who was also a cancer survivor reached the second camp but with the weather condition (snowing) forcing the volunteer to return to base and the 19 others reached the top of the summit.  Four of them reached Stella Point, while the remaining 15 reached the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro named Uhuru – meaning freedom in Swahili.

Cancer survivor, Juzair Nawab, who completed the journey to the summit said, “I am very thankful to Oman Cancer Association for giving me this opportunity to be part of this expedition.  When I learnt about the project and the purpose behind it I was very impressed because I have personally experienced the benefits of healthy life styles and physical activity in my fighting and overcoming cancer.  Initially I had lot of hesitation but with Mr Nasser al Azri’s persistent persuasion and excellent support from the team members I decided to go ahead, tried my best and gave it my best shot.  I hope whatever little I have achieved will inspire other cancer patients and the community to fight and overcome cancer.”

The volunteers enrolled in this program were put through a protocol of exercises and Yoga for a period of six months and it was those who successfully completed the program who were chosen to climb the mount organized by OCA.

“This program would not have been successful if it were not for the strong commitment of those involved at all levels.  Juzair Nawab is now a role model for all cancer survivors. They brought out the comrade and esprit de corps that was necessary for the success of the program.  We would like to thank all those who have sponsored this team,” added Dr Al Kharousi.

“Honestly it was difficult especially managing the team of 20 because we had to constantly think of how each person is responding to the weather, environment in addition to their own health.  In addition to fitness training, we incorporated Yoga to ensure everyone has the right breathing techniques,” explained Nasser al Azri, an experienced climber who led the program and the climbing expedition successfully.

On June 21 the OCA team started off their journey from Muscat and returned on 30th of June.  First of July members of the team were already at the Headquarters of OCA meeting the media and exchanging their experiences.

Out of the ten days, seven days were spent on climbing up and down the summit.  “No major incidents or side effects. Only cold burns and flu thankfully,” said Al Azri.

OCA chose this project to highlight the factor that physical inactivity is one of the four recognized main risk factor of cancer.

“Physical activity is an important component in cancer prevention and control.  The OCA’s strategy is to create awareness and encourage the community to engage in healthy lifestyle and physical activity.  It is important and necessary to create awareness of physical activity with all the sectors of the community with pragmatic programs suitable for different age groups,” said Dr Waheed al Kharousi, Chairman of Oman Cancer Asssociation.

According to Dr Al Kharousi, the participants consisting of men and women are now trained to be the ambassadors of physical activities to the rest of the community to encourage them to exercise and be healthy.

The event is now going to be an annual program for creating awareness to the importance of healthy life style and physical activity in cancer prevention and control.