Defied disease – climbed Kebnekaise

“Allt för Sverige” – Katie trained for six months in order to fulfill her dream.

Aftonbladet, July 31, 2015. By Linn Elmervik. Translated from the original Swedish

The chronic disease could not stop her.

A week ago the “Everything from Sweden” – participant Katie Malik, 35, achieved her goal – and climbed Kebnekaise.

– “On the way down I felt like I was flying,” she says.

In “Everything for Sweden” television viewers followed Katie Malik’s battle against the chronic and rare disease cystic fibrosis. The disease involves the body’s mucous membranes producing thicker and stickier than normal mucus, which mainly affects breathing.

The average life expectancy for cystic fibrosis in Sweden is 50 years. In Katie’s native United States it is 37.

FACTS

Fact: Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that causes the mucus which is the body’s mucous membranes are thicker and stickier than normal.

The lungs and digestive tract are the parts that are most affected.

In Sweden there are more than 700 known cases of cystic fibrosis. Average life expectancy is 50 years.

Source: National Board.

Despite her serious illness Katie Malik lives an active life and works as an account manager, yoga teacher and opera singer. A few months ago, she decided to brave the disease even more – and climb Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise.

“I wanted to see if I could do it”

The idea came up during the filming of “Everything for Sweden” last year when Katie came in second place. Though the participants visited the area around Kebnekaise outside Kiruna, they never got to go up into the mountains.

– “I had already wanted to explore the mountains for years, and when I saw the sign for Kebnekaise, I thought ‘I can do it, I will go now.’ But I had to wait and prepare myself,” says Katie.

Said and done. Katie Malik, who normally lives in Gig Harbour in Washington, trained and worked with her breathing for six months. Just over a week ago she brought her father, her cousin and her husband and headed north.

– “It was not about proving anything. I just wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to feel what it was like to be on Sweden’s highest point,” she says.

“The dream came true”

And training had paid off. The group made it to the top and back in 14 hours.

– “I became very good at syncing my movements with breathing. 14 hours is a little longer than you usually need, but everything went well. The trail up was difficult because it was a big physical challenge. But on the way down, I felt like I was flying,” she says.

After a wet and chilly summer, Katie Malik little worried about the weather conditions before the trip. But she was lucky.

– “It was great when we got up, it was clear and we had views in all directions. The dream became really true.”

[To read the story about how and why I did this in my own words, click here]

Katie Malik takes in the view from the Västra Leden (western trail) up Kebnekaise. July 2015. Photo by David Robertson.

Katie Malik takes in the view from the Västra Leden (western trail) up Kebnekaise. July 2015. Photo by David Robertson.

Katie Malik looks toward Kebnekaise from Västra Leden. July 2015. Photo by David Robertson.

Katie Malik looks toward Kebnekaise from Västra Leden. July 2015. Photo by David Robertson.

Katie Malik on the 19 kilometer trail from Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise Fjällstationen. July 2015. Photo by David Robertson.

Katie Malik on the 19 kilometer trail from Nikkaluokta to Kebnekaise Fjällstationen. July 2015. Photo by David Robertson.

 

 

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