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Woman with rare disease to climb Mt. Everest

April 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An Orange County woman is heading to Mt. Everest, hoping to scale the world's tallest peak. It is the opportunity of her life, a life that is tragically being cut short. Cindy Abbott is packed and ready to leave on a two-month trek of a lifetime. The avid climber is attempting to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

"What happens on the mountain, we'll have to see but we're hoping for the best and we've been training," said Abbott.

The 51-year-old moved up her plans to climb the world's highest mountain because she is running out of time.

"After the diagnosis, we needed to do it now because the vision in the other eye could go at any time," explained Abbott.

The Orange County resident is terminally ill, suffering from a rare disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. It can damage kidneys, lungs and other organs. She is blind in one eye and suffers joint pain daily. In the past, she's also suffered from mini-strokes.

"I just sort of ignore the pain and keep climbing," said Abbott.

Abbott must carry with her bags of medication. She knows that it will most likely be her last climb. Abbott's husband Larry has joined her on many climbs before but he is sitting Everest out. Her daughter must also cheer her on from home.

For Abbott, climbing Mt. Everest is not just a personal challenge. She hopes to raise awareness and money to find a cure for vasculitus and other rare diseases. Abbott hopes to show others that anything is possible.

"Don't let obstacles stand in front of you. Live your life the way you want to live it," said Abbott.