–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo credit to Loretta Himmelsbach
Mountain climbing and hospice are the passions that drive Andrew Land, Director of Hospice and Palliative Care at Agnesian HealthCare in Fond du Lac. On February 18, he treated Rotarians to stunning shots of snow-covered mountain peaks and explained how his avocation and his professional mission are interwoven.
Land began climbing mountains in 1992 with a trek up Mount Rainier. He was working at a hospital in Chicago at the time and was inspired by an article he read. He made the climb with a group and a guide, but never got near the summit. It was so windy people were being blown off their feet.
Land caught the climbing “bug” and eventually took his kids with him on his climbs. It was on Mount McKinley in 2002 that climbing and hospice came together for him. This was a difficult, month-long expedition, and sometimes he wondered why he was there. However, he thought about a hospice patient named John who was excited about Land’s climb. John had told Land to “think of me” when the going got tough. Hospice patients have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, he said, and so do mountain climbers even when they think they cannot go another step.
A few years later, while climbing Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, Land had long discussions with others in his group who had lost family members. When they learned he was “a hospice person” they talked about their experiences and asked questions. What would they have liked to say to their loved ones before they died? And how could someone die so young?
This year, Land will climb Mount Everest funded by his brother Chris, who is two years older and very ill. Chris changed his life insurance policy in order to allow his younger brother to fulfill a dream. Chris only asked Andy to “use my story to help others.”
Having served two terms as President of the Board of HOPE of Wisconsin, Andy is working with Melanie Ramey to make his climb a fundraiser for hospice. For more information, visit: CLIMBING FOR HOSPICE.