After a cancer scare, I left my stressful corporate career and found solace in hiking

4 min readAug 17, 2021


Like many of us, I fell into the hamster wheel and routine that dictated my life for over 35 years by working a conventional corporate role in which over time, I dreaded going to work each day.

I made a good living in this career but after dealing with a breast cancer health scare in my mid 50’s coupled with pure boredom of the corporate routine, I felt the reins and the forces that were propelling me to maintain this course, had finally come off. I knew I needed to retire from the corporate grind a few years earlier than I had originally planned to focus more on my physical and mental health. Due to my somewhat minimalist lifestyle, I had also accumulated enough wealth to retire early and knew I could easily find a more flexible role in the nonprofit industry that paid my basic living expenses and offered health insurance until I was ready to completely retire.

I have learned over the years that in times of anxiety, or when I was feeling down, stressed, or bored, that hiking outdoors was my best form of therapy. I took flight to the hiking trails to sort things out and relieve any stress. Due to my heavy corporate travel schedule, I was not able to enjoy the outdoors as much as I would have liked.

I vacillated for a year or so after my cancer scare, before I finally made the decision to retire from corporate life early but once I did, I felt a sense of joy and giddiness over my new found freedom. Within a year of my new life, I decided to open a non profit supporting the cancer community, Kristi’s Klimbers Foundation, We provide free 3D mammograms to uninsured populations via on site mobile mammograms and under served communities along with active wear items for survivors including mastectomy bras and mastectomy swimsuits so cancer patients and survivors can lead active and healthy lives, and gain confidence.

I allowed my heavy work schedule and the demands of being a single mom to interfere with my scheduling routine yearly mammograms so fortunately a mobile mammogram showed up at my worksite one day and discovered a malignant lump in my breast. My cancer was still caught at an early stage so with treatment, I am now cancer free. After this experience, I had a strong desire to help other busy and uninsured women and men get mammograms in an easy and convenient way via a mobile mammogram service. I knew my diagnosis could have been much worse and vowed to “pay it forward” to help others.

All of our board of directors and officers at Kristi’s Klimbers Foundation are volunteers so there is no pressure to fund raise constantly, although I have been pleasantly surprised with the flurry of corporate donations we have received within the short time we have been up and running. This has allowed us to host several free mobile mammogram events this year and provide many mastectomy bras and swimsuits to cancer survivors

My days now are filled with volunteering a few hours a week with Kristi’s Klimbers Foundation, working a flexible role that I enjoy that has good health insurance, and deciding on which waterfall hiking trail to explore each week with friends. If my cancer does return, I will have no regrets since I made a conscious decision to pursue the type of life that makes me happy and is stress free, and provides me with a sense of “purpose”.

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Kristi is an avid hiker in AZ , a six year cancer survivor, and founder of Kristis Klimbers Foundation, a 501c3 non profit. that supports the cancer community