Chemo’ is no bar­rier to Sky Tower climb

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - BROOKE BATH

A vol­un­teer fire­fighter had no idea he had stage three Lym­phoma cancer when he first climbed to the top of the Sky Tower.

Ge­orge Nor­ridge did the climb for charity last year not know­ing how sick he was and this year he con­quered the same climb again af­ter he com­pleted 18 weeks of chemo­ther­apy in De­cem­ber 2016.

The Pu­taruru man and fa­therof-five was one of 900 Kiwi fire­fight­ers to climb 51 flights of stairs in this year’s Fire­fighter Sky Tower Stair Chal­lenge.

The an­nual event fundraises for the Leukemia and Blood Cancer foun­da­tion. Nor­ridge, 50, was one of the first to climb as both a par­tic­i­pant and a blood cancer pa­tient.

He had no train­ing lead­ing up to the event and con­tin­ued to bat­tle the side ef­fects of hav­ing chemo­ther­apy.

He still had no feel­ing in his toes as he set out to climb the stairs.

Family and friends cheered as Nor­ridge crossed the fin­ish line, climb­ing the huge flights of stairs in just 23 min­utes while dressed in the theme of 101 Dal­ma­tians and rep­re­sent­ing the Pu­taruru Vol­un­teer Bri­gade.

He was dis­ap­pointed, he wanted to beat his pre­vi­ous time of 18 min­utes – the time he achieved be­fore he was aware he had cancer. He stopped once through­out. ‘‘Well that was about ten times harder than last year,’’ Nor­ridge said.

‘‘I feel pretty sec­ond-hand. Last year I got to the fin­ish and felt like I could do it again but this year I was lucky to make it to the top.

‘‘But I was go­ing to make it, even if I had to crawl,’’ he said.

It’s a bru­tal chal­lenge, even for fit and healthy fire­fight­ers.

Strapped in full fire fight­ing kit weigh­ing 25kgs they haul them­selves over 1100 stairs.

Some col­lapse across the fin­ish line. Oth­ers are car­ried by their com­rades to the end.

There are tears, smiles of re­lief, adrenalin and of course, a lot of sweat.

But Nor­ridge chan­nelled the same determination to get to the end as he did when he was at his ab­so­lute worst, he said. ‘‘The thing is to not give up.’’ ‘‘There’s a lot to be said for for a pos­i­tive men­tal at­ti­tude.’’

He aimed to com­pete in the chal­lenge next year.

There are around 21,000 peo­ple liv­ing with blood cancer or a re­lated con­di­tion in New Zealand.

Ge­orge Nor­ridge was one of the first climbers in the Fire­fighter climb who was a blood cancer pa­tient.

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