Meet our Everest Base Camp pioneers: Tasneem Ahmed

Tasneem Ahmed will be one of the first women to take Imran Khan’s cancer appeal to the base of the tallest mountain on earth. We believe she has what it takes to complete the challenge. Do you?

Imagine a Redditch born and bred, British Pathan Pakistani based in Arizona, working for Roche at it’s Global Cancer Diagnostics Headquarters (Roche Tissue Diagnostics) as an International Product Manager. Now imagine her alter-ego: a plane flying, canyon hiking, marathon running philanthropic soul with an insatiable passion for travel and pushing her own limits. This is Tasneem Ahmed, who also enjoys sedentary hobbies like baking novelty cakes!

Why did you choose to fundraise for IKCA?

I have always been a fan of Imran Khan, and used to watch the cricket test matches as a child. Part of the reason was because he originates from the same province as me in Pakistan (Pashtun), so I always felt a deeper connection. As my career took shape and I started working in the cancer diagnosis field, it was heart wrenching to know that people could not afford to get diagnosed for cancer, let alone receive appropriate treatment. It was only natural then that I came to support IKCA. After all, this is a charity that supports the under privileged cancer patients in my home country.

Why did you decide to take part in the Everest Base Camp challenge?

I love to travel, and have always had the Himalayas on my travel list. In December 2017, when I saw the advert for the challenge, I did not hesitate to sign up as this was my once in a lifetime opportunity to raise such a large amount for IKCA, and realise my dream of visiting the Himalayas. I also felt that my daily fitness routine could be used to its advantage in training for the challenge, as it’s not easy to maintain the motivation with a 6am running routine. Having a goal to focus on makes training much more fun!

Do you take part in a lot of fundraising challenges for charity?

Yes. The last one was a 5km run to raise funds for my local hospital (Alexandra Hospital in Redditch) so that they could lease Rory the Robot to enable robotically assisted radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer patients. I was the first woman to complete the course!

What was the most difficult challenge you’ve taken part in so far?

The most difficult challenge was learning to become a private pilot. The most challenging part was not training in the cockpit -that’s the fun part! But trying to get back into education mode (not easy when I am juggling it with my other passion, my day job and wanting to run as much as I can.) I have had to also overcome travel/motion sickness. I used to be ‘that’ traveler that used to always hold the sick bag in their lap! With deep mind coaching I have been able to overcome this when in the cockpit.

What does training for Everest Base Camp involve for you?

I have increased my daily running distance from 4km to 6km, at an altitude of 2640ft, which is the elevation here in Tucson, Arizona. I also work on my core with Pilates and yoga once a week. In addition to running, I work on my upper body muscles with light weights for my back and arms, just incase the Sherpa’s need some help!

Since the New Year, I’ve also completed a few hikes in preparation for Everest Base Camp. These include the Sabino Canyon trail in Tucson, Arizona; the Mission Peak trail in Fremont, California; and a hike in the Santa Catalina mountain ranges in Tucson. The last one wasn’t as strenuous as the Mission Peak trail, but it sure gave me an opportunity to get some good wear out of my hiking boots, so they will be ready for the terrain at Everest! Hopefully I’ll get to do a few more trails before May, when the weather here gets alittle too warm (37c-44c!)

Aside from the traveling, flying and hiking, what are your other hobbies?

I love cooking, especially baking –which isn’t great when you are trying to keep lean for the challenge! I have a passion for creating and making birthday’s special by baking and decorating novelty cakes. I was also the cake baker for two family weddings. Baking helps to bring out the creative side and gives me a chance to relax. I also like to read non-fiction, especially self-development books. The one I am reading right now is The Rules of Life, by Richard Templar.

If you could have only three things with you on a desert island, what would they be?

A Toothbrush, toothpaste and espresso. Yes, I am obsessed with my teeth and addicted to caffeine. I have my coffee imported from the UK as the coffee here in the US is not quite to my taste buds! So if you are heading to Arizona at some point you know what to pack for me!

What is one thing you are most dreading about the challenge? An obvious one would be the altitude sickness but also not being able to get my caffeine fix at 18,000ft!

What is one thing you are most looking forward to about the challenge?

I am really looking forward to sharing the adventure with people who have the same vision as me: to help those in need. It’ not often in life you can bring a team of strangers together expecting them to get on in an environment which will require vital mental focus, team collaboration and agility. I am eager to participate in this real life study which will no doubt result in long lasting friendships.

How has your fundraising been going?

Very well! I have raised £2,514.60 on the Just Giving website alone. Also, my employer Roche, have agreed to match all US Roche donations.

What advice would you have for anyone thinking about taking part in the Everest Base Camp?

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up, and the Everest Base Camp challenge does just that! In preparation for it you will embark on a fitness routine that you never thought your body was able to endure.

Also, in preparation for the challenge I managed to get kitted out in a good pair of hiking boots earlier this year. I got them from a retailer called REI who then informed me of their Members Hiking group. I am now a REI member and I have access to their classes. One that I attended was ‘packing for long distance hike and essential gear’. This group is fantastic as you get to learn from experienced hikers who have a wealth of knowledge to share. I would recommend everyone taking part in the challenge to check them out.

How do you feel about being part of the first team to take IKCA’s cause to Everest Base Camp?

I feel very honoured! To be able to contribute on this level to the charity is heart warming and makes me feel I am really pushing myself physically to help those cancer patients in need.

Show Tasneem your support by donating to her fundraising efforts on her JustGiving Page. IKCA has got together a power team of adventurous men and women to take our cancer appeal to the base of Everest. We still have space for a few more challengers. Do you think you have what it takes to join them?

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