By Kate Gross

Cory Berliner-Huminsky is many things – a college softball coach, a pitching instructor and evaluator, a wife, a daughter. She’s also a mountain climber and a cancer survivor.

Huminsky is raising money for an organization called Cancer Climbs, one which allowed her to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro after surviving childhood lung cancer.

Huminsky was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 11 while living in Fort Collins, Colo.

After undergoing several surgeries and tests, she and her family were relieved to know it had not metastasized anywhere. She counts herself as incredibly lucky, saying, “the doctors caught it early. I played softball my entire childhood, and when I was a junior in high school, I was recruited to play for Pitt. So I came out here and played all four years before going on to receive my masters at Ohio State.”

Huminsky began to do her own research and found an organization called the CancerClimber Association while researching high altitude and the effects of having lungs with reduced function. A friend of hers had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and she wanted to as well but felt nervous, considering her medical history. “Reaching out to Sean Swarner, organization founder and a lung cancer survivor and climber himself, was the best decision I made,” Huminsky tells me. “The trips are amazing, challenging, and fun. But my favorite part is that I can raise money to help other cancer survivors feel those same emotions. It’s life-changing.”

She’s climbed Kilimanjaro. Now she’s ready for Everest.

“I can’t wait to take in the views of the Himalayas,” Huminsky tells me. “It’s the highest mountain range in the world, and I think it will be absolutely stunning. Plus, seeing Everest is something I’ve always had on my bucket list. I was a little nervous on the first trip to Kili because I didn’t know what to expect, but now I feel very prepared.”

Huminsky is quick to point out how much work goes into planning and strategizing these trips and, at the same time, how important it is that every participant integrates into the program seamlessly, without having to do any of the work done behind the scenes. This allows them to have a fully amazing and unique experience that “all survivors deserve,” Huminsky notes. “We’ve all been through so much.”

When asked whether she was nervous about her upcoming Everest trip, Huminsky notes that “climbing to Mt. Everest base camp is easier because it’s not quite as high. However, it’s much longer. Mt Kili took about five days up and two days down to climb, but Mt. Everest base camp takes about twelve days of trekking to get all the way in there. So I guess that’s up to the person, and if going higher or going longer is harder.”

When asked about her mantra, Huminsky tells a story about her Kilimanjaro trip. “Funny you should ask that. Sean gave us all bracelets when we climbed Kili that said, “I am __.” He asked us all to fill in that word. For me, it is ‘I am strong.’ I have had a lot of health issues in my life, and I find a way to make it through them, so that’s my mantra.

My problem with sports, climbing, etc., has always been my breathing. I have to keep myself calm and take one breath at a time.”

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