The outdoors can provide leisure, relaxation and serenity. A place to push pause on your schedule and provide balance. A safe space in times of personal trouble. Brittney Garrett came to this realization last year. The Oregon native, who is a wildland firefighter and basketball coach, saw her life change dramatically when she was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in August 2018.
Growing up Brittney spent a great deal of time in the outdoors with her three brothers. Whether it was camping, hiking or exploring, she was always trying to keep up with them when she was little. Though she isn’t chasing her brothers today, she still finds time to get outside and immerse herself in nature – whether for work or recreation.
“My favorite activity is probably backpacking; something about traveling miles on your own two feet and having everything you need for a week on your back is amazing,” she said. “My first multiday backpacking trip was to Mountain Lakes Wilderness area in Oregon. After the 10-mile climb up, the lakes are absolutely gorgeous and full of fish. That’s one of my favorite places to go.”
Her active, outdoor lifestyle has been greatly altered since receiving her diagnosis last summer, and her adventures have been limited. Brittney says that this experience has changed the way she looks at and values her time outside; she has a much greater appreciation for it all. “It’s taught me to never take anything for granted,” she said. “It’s also motivated me to get out there and live a life full of adventure.”
Her treatment involved a grueling seven-week stint of daily visits to the cancer center. While this process has been difficult and draining, Brittney remains positive and knows it’s just one step in her journey that will soon pass. “It’s just a short period of time to overcome this and I’m already looking forward to my future travel plans once my radiation treatment is finished and I’m cleared to travel,” she said.
Fortunately for Brittney, it looks like those travel plans may be here soon — she finished her radiation treatment at the end of December! Not only is treatment complete, but the doctors said the cancer is unlikely to come back. Extremely exciting and uplifting news to receive. So what destinations are on her list for 2019? “I have plans for a cross-country road trip in my Toyota Rav, which my boyfriend and I are transforming into a camper van. I also want to do a backpacking trip to explore Thailand once I’m cleared to travel outside of the country.”
Whether you’re in the midst of your own difficult journey, or looking to challenge yourself in the new year, let this message inspire you. Brittney’s hope is that her story can help embolden you to persevere, overcome any obstacles and live a life full of adventure.