Cancer survivor’s Everest base camp trip on hold due to Covid-19

Matthew Reid celebrating his 17th birthday this year.

Covid-19 travel restrictions have stalled a 17-year-old Constantia cancer survivor’s plan to reach Mount Everest Base Camp.

In 2010, Matthew Reid was diagnosed with Burkitts lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Matthew was treated at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital from June to August of that year, and it was where he met the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation, whose volunteers handed him a care bag, often visited his bedside and provided his parents with a cup of coffee and a muffin on tough days at the hospital.

After having chemotherapy, Matthew recovered from the cancer.

“Today I encourage other young people who have cancer,” he says. “I am a proud childhood cancer survivor and eager to take on life wholeheartedly.”

Matthew is part of CHOC’s survivor programme and motivates cancer patients.

He had been training for a trip to Mount Everest Base Camp since last year and says he was disappointed when it was postponed because of Covid-19.

“I’ve always wanted to get away from the city, and when the Everest trip arose, I thought I’d love to experience a new culture, a country that’s very different to your typical London and New York. Spending 20 days there sounded good.”

His school, Bishops, had organised the trip, and it was open to pupils and parents.

“I decided to go by myself and a few friends who were also planning on going.”

The group that signed up for the 16-day adventure trained every weekend, and when Matthew told CHOC about it, they suggested he and his friends wear CHOC T-shirts on the trek to show he was a cancer survivor who had reached his goal despite all adversities.

“We were set to leave on the 13th of March and get back on the 2nd or 3rd of April, but then we heard that we weren’t allowed to travel out of the country. They said they are trying as hard as they can though for us to go around the same time maybe next year.”

Matthew has never let cancer get in the way of his love for sport.

“I have always loved fitness and I have excelled in squash.”

He started playing squash in 2013 and in 2014 was selected for the Western Province under-11 team to go on the interprovincial tour. In 2015 he played for the Western Province B team and in 2016 was placed first in the under-13 A Team. In 2017 he made the under-14 A Team and was awarded national colours for squash and the Peter van der Bijl Award for all-round excellence – one of Bishops Preparatory School’s top awards.

He also played A team water polo, and hockey for his school.

Matthew celebrates 10 years of being a cancer survivor this year, and on Sunday June 7, National Cancer Survivors’ Day, he took part in CHOC’s Cancer Survivors’ Day Run/Walk from his home.

CHOC Western Cape appealed to all cancer survivors, their family and friends to commemorate the day by walking or running 5km to and from their homes from 6am to 9am. Participants paid a R20 entry fee.

CHOC’s Lynette Muthuray said the run/walk raised money for CHOC’s services to children battling cancer and life-threatening blood disorders.

Matthew posted updates from his walk on Instagram on Sunday and he thanked people for their donations.

You can still donate at https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/choc-wc-csd or find the “CHOC Western Cape Group” on Facebook.