Annie, a SES senior, climbed for Julie Oftedahl-Volstad

Annie loves animals, and they love her too
Julie fulfilled a lifetime goal of going to Iceland with her husband and friends












Annie has always loved the outdoors, but she’d never ventured into the high mountain peaks before.  She injured her knee about two months before the climb and this made training much more difficult.  She also bought a pair of boots just before the climb and this cartoon in the climbing hostel actually came to pass.

Dangers of first time mountain climbers

Annie ended up being the first person we know of to climb all the way to the glacier at 5,000 meters in sandals because the blisters hurt so bad.

Blisters from new boots!

Julie has an amazing story.  Years and years ago when Julie was a fairly newly married woman and young mother she and some of her friends were feeling frazzled by the many demands of those roles.  Money was tight and they needed a dream and goal to help them get through the hard days, so they agreed to set aside $10 dollars a month for a future adventure.  Then, in 2016, Julie was found to have a large renal cell cancer in her left kidney.  Her friends and husband were dealing with other serious health problems as well.

Julie’s cancer was very big, replacing her entire kidney, and it had started to grow into her blood vessels (her main renal vein and into her vena cava, the largest blood vessel in the body!)

Julie underwent surgery in the fall of 2016 at the University of Minnesota through an open incision and the tumor, thrombus and 13 lymph nodes were removed.  The margins were negative, the lymph nodes were negative and though she has about a 50% chance of recurrence, she has been a year and a half out since surgery with no sign of disease.

As she recovered from surgery and the summer approached, Julie and her friends felt a strong compulsion to use their travel money, because they understood now more than ever, how precious and fleeting life can be.  They decided on Iceland, and just a few months before they were to leave, Julie’s husband, Elmo, was diagnosed with another type of cancer! Fortunately, Elmo’s cancer treatments could be delayed a month or so without risk and they all made it to Iceland.  Both Julie and Elmo are free from cancer currently and living each day to the fullest.

Julie and Elmo finally made it to Iceland with their lifetime friends