It was the journey of a lifetime to one of the highest elevations on earth for a Northeast Ohio surgeon, nearly four miles above sea level.
“We started at about 5,200 feet, got to 8,000, 12,000, 14,000, 15,000 and then summit,” said Dr. Tsulee Chen.
In September, Chen and her husband made the trek to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa.
The hike presented some major obstacles along the way. Air sickness and bitter cold temperatures almost cut Chen’s quest short just a few peaks away from the summit.
Chen recounts an interaction she had with her husband less than one thousand feet from the top.
“I’m ready to go back down, I'm good and he said no I'm not doing this without you and I'm like no go ahead really it's fine and he say no you don't understand, you will never let me live this down, so go!"
Chen did continue and capped off the life-changing ordeal by draping an Akron Children’s Hospital banner across the summit sign after taking a moment to let it all sink in.
“I looked at my husband and I just lost it,” said Chen. “I said I can't believe I'm here and he said you totally made it."
Back at work Chen handles business as usual at Akron Children’s but her co-workers say her monumental experience across the globe is an inspiration for everyone who walks through the hospital's doors.
“I think her sharing that it was a challenge and in the end it was a great reward but it was something that was both physically and mentally hard for her,” said physician assistant Kelly Wiseman. “I think it's very cool to share with our families because lots of them have daily struggles."
“It really puts into perspective what's important and what's not and that has actually been more substantial for me in translating that to my patients and their families,” added Chen.
Does this mean Chen will be scaling new heights in the future?
“Never say never, we’ll see,” said Chen.