What’s the story, Mr. Shryock?
After surviving cancer, DHL employee Patrick Shryock was looking for challenge and adventure – and found both on a high-altitude, 12-day trek through Nepal to the base camp of Mount Everest.
I’ve just returned from a trip to reach the base camp of Everest – the world’s highest mountain – with 13 of my DHL colleagues. It’s been an incredible experience, made even more symbolic for me because, four years ago, I nearly died from cancer.
I was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, aged 37. At my lowest point I was on a breathing machine, but I finished treatment in 2015 and went into remission. Then I had to learn to walk again. That turned into running, which turned into finding new ways to push myself to my limits.
I first read about the challenge in a DHL-wide email, which invited a team of employees on a 12-day trek from Lukla in Nepal to Everest’s base camp. There were 1,700 applicants but only 14 places, so I was really happy to be chosen even though I’d never done anything like it before. None of us on the team knew each other, but we chatted on social media beforehand and were like old friends by the time we met in Nepal.
The trek wasn’t easy. For instance, we spent a couple of days walking straight up a mountain range, which wore us down, but I never got to the point where I felt I needed to quit and we did a good job of supporting each other. In the evenings we’d sit in the mountain tea rooms and talk, which helped us develop as a group. On my second-to-last day I got altitude sickness – I had a terrible, pounding headache and I was sick to my stomach – but I felt the strength of the team around me, coming together as one. At DHL, everyone thrives in team environments. It’s part of the culture.
One of the most enjoyable things about my job is that I get to interact with people from all over the globe, finding out more about them and their customs, so I loved experiencing the culture of Nepal and gaining lots of new friends. And, fitness-wise, I’m in better shape now than I was before my diagnosis. The best part of the trip? Well, reaching base camp and looking at the peak of Everest exceeded all my expectations. It was an awesome sight. I’d go back and do it all again tomorrow if you asked me to. — as told to Tony Greenway
Published: October 2019
Images: DHL, P.L. Rogers