A 39 year-old man with Cystic Fibrosis is attempting to become the first person with the disease to climb Mount Everest. Nick Talbot hopes that his perilous attempt to scale the highest and most famous mountain in the world will help to raise awareness and funds for CF while encouraging those with the disease to lead active, healthy lives and challenge themselves to pursue their personal dreams.
Measuring 29,029 feet, Mount Everest has claimed the lives of over 200 people who have attempted to brave its thin air, frigid temperatures, and scorching UV rays. The trek to Everest’s summit is a challenge for even completely healthy individuals who have trained for years for the event. Given the difficult breathing environment — most modern Everest climbers have used supplemental oxygen near the top of the mountain — the atmospheric conditions make Talbot’s climb even more daunting and arduous. Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that primarily affects the lungs due to an inordinate amount of thick, sticky mucous caused by a faulty CFTR gene mutation. The build-up of mucus in the lungs is difficult to dislodge, and can lead to breathing difficulties and deadly bacterial infections. Moreover, the mucus build-up in a CF patient’s system also impacts the pancreas and digestive system, making it increasingly difficult to absorb nutrients in food. As a result, CF patients must eat high-calorie diets in order to maintain nutrition and body weight. Both the breathing and caloric demands of the disease only further compound Nick’s Everest expedition.
In addition to training and planning rigorously for his climb, Talbot attributes his ability to even attempt such a feat to Kalydeco by Vertex. Nick began taking the therapy in 2012, as he is one of the 4% of those with Cystic Fibrosis who has the specific gene mutation that Kalydeco currently corrects. The drug has made a substantial difference in his lung function and health, which is why he wants to attempt to climb Mount Everest now while he is at his healthiest so as to highlight the substantial improvements that CF research and drug development has made in the lives of those with the disease, and how further expansion of drugs like Kalydeco to treat a wider subset of the CF patient population is currently in the works.
Talbot believes that this publicity strategy will help meet and even exceed his fundraising goals, which are currently 50% met. He believes that 500 social media supporters will ensure that a high-visibility trend is created on these social media platforms. As he attempts to conquer the most dangerous mountain in the world and survive one of the deadliest pulmonary diseases at the same time, be sure to follow and support the cause through your social media accounts.