Terminal Cancer: what would you do if your doctor delivered those scariest two words? Andy Lyon went for a hike: 2655 miles from Mexico to Canada.

I was fortunate to be a part of Andy’s world in a small way:  I never knew Andy but felt his spirit powerfully from Casey’s story –  from the backpacking forums and cancer communities – from connecting tearfully with his family at home in the hills of northern California. A home where I photographed, from boxes brought out from tender storage, that which was such a core part of his life on the Pacific Crest Trail from border to border.  Emotional portraits of objects. Objects with meaning.

Backpacker Magazine opening spreadIt just came out this week in Backpacker magazine and I’m standing in the airport terminal’s magazine stand, waiting for my flight tonight, looking at the glossy green cover and realizing the power of the story that’s inside.  There are a lot of powerful stories in those magazine racks I’m sure, but this one’s close to me – it touched me as I’ve dealt with death and loss this year and it touched me as I’ve followed the forums and conversations that are alight in the wake of this being published.

Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 19, he was optimistic: 90% of those treated survive. But in time Andy learned his fate was different and a few years later with  a looming terminal date he believed he would rather “thrust himself into the heart of hardship and beauty to seize control of his fate and challenge his disease in fight to the death.”

Please read Andy’s story in Backpacker.  Word is it’s the best story they’ve ever published.  It will stay with you.

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