HYATTSVILLE, Md.-- Gillian Lichota is the kind of woman who loves adventure and traveling. For most of her life, she has enjoyed exploring the world through the lens of her camera. She was at the prime of her life, when she got the devastating news.
She was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer during the first trimester of her first pregnancy. She went through chemotherapy, from 20 weeks to 32 weeks of pregnancy.
After Lichota gave birth to her son, doctors started with more aggressive treatment and surgeries.
"I put this goal in my mind I was going to get well again. I wanted to find the biggest most beautiful mountain to climb because I could. I found the cancer mountain to be a dark, difficult mountain," said Lichota.
She left that dark difficult time at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and came down with a new purpose, helping other women climb their own mountain. She started the 'I Rise Above' foundation, a support group for young women going through breast cancer. It helps women with health and wellness advice and resources specific to younger women.
Next June, Lichota will take 40 of those women a Patagonia adventure, to help them achieve what right now, may seem like the impossible.
Lichota was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time a few years ago. She learned it spread to other parts in her body and is still in chemotherapy today. It was a dark time in her life that she says she decided to leave behind. She now focuses on thriving, and not letting breast cancer define her.
As a young woman, Lichota knew first-hand the struggles that come with being a young woman and fighting breast cancer. There is so much support while you're going through treatment, but there aren't too many resources out there during the healing process after the fact.
Lichota along with the I Rise Above Foundation helps women grappling with issues around physical and emotional intimacy.
"Ultimately, we want every woman with breast cancer to live a fulfilling life and receive the inspiration support they need," said Lichota.