Get To Know: iRise Above Foundation
Here at Rethink, we’re constantly sharing stories of extraordinary women. Those who have had been dealt life-altering experiences, diagnoses and most importantly, have a unique perspective that can enlighten others.
One such woman is Gillian Lichota, an adventure-seeking marine scientist who spent decades studying the effects of climate change on the ocean environment. She’s also the founder of the iRise Above Foundation, an organization dedicated to outstanding quality of life, empowerment and inspirational support for young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
After a stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis while pregnant with her son in 2012, she has since summited Mount Kilimanjaro, been diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer and started a non-profit foundation that surrounds other young women with targeted, age-appropriate, and connected health and wellness resources to enable them to rise above the residual effects of breast cancer and complete a life-changing mind-body-spirit expedition.
After the gauntlets of surgeries and treatments were over, Gillian experienced major gaps in targeted, age-appropriate, and connected health and wellness resources to help her get well, feel supported and enable her to rise above the residual effects of breast cancer. She also felt alone and adrift as she began to process what had happened to her, while others around her seemed to unintentionally move on. So, she set out to fill those gaps through iRise Above’s initiatives and support services.
As fellow Rethinkers know, people often don’t realize the unique set of challenges that come with being a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Issues around physical and emotional intimacy, body image, fertility, career, finances, and the emotional burden of a diagnosis.
Similar to the work we do at Rethink, iRise Above hopes to change perceptions and challenge old paradigms of what it means to have and live with breast cancer. They also offer something unique: a transformational six-month iJourney that takes young women on a targeted mind-body-spirit adventure with a Wellness Collective of expert advisors and culminates in an epic outdoor expedition.
Each expedition is uniquely designed to incorporate the critical tools learned and practiced over the previous six months. Think small cohorts of like-minded young women, thoughtfully selected expert advisors, online support, monitoring tools for tracking and networking opportunities with each other and Gillian.
In 2019, iRise Above will lead intimate groups of young women all connected by – and rising above – breast cancer on iJourneys of their choosing to bucket-list locations like Nepal and the Himalayas, Tanzania to summit the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro, the Cook Islands for a healing mind-body-spirit active adventure in, on and around the ocean, and finally, Patagonia to hike, bike, kayak and ice-climb through the breathtaking vistas of Chile and Argentina.
“I encourage each woman to do the thing she thinks she cannot do and challenge her not to worry about failures, but worry about the chances she may miss when she doesn’t even try!” says Gillian.
The goal of completing a mind-body-spirit expedition? To help women close one chapter of their lives and open another.