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4 Our Heroes: LA County Search and Rescue Volunteer Faces Freezing Waters and Treacherous Mountainsides for Cancer Research

No matter who you are, cancer has most likely affected you in some way. Whether it was yourself, a family member, friend or co-worker, cancer is a disease that unfortunately affects so many.

According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2018, there is an estimate of more than 1.7 million new cases of cancer that will be diagnosed within the United States.

Mike Leum, a volunteer search and rescue deputy and an anonymous bone marrow donor, is one person that has been affected by cancer more than once.

In 2005, Leum's mother died from pancreatic cancer — then his wife battled melanoma but is fortunately doing OK. 

"It's just one of those things that keeps showing up in life," Leum said.

When presented with the opportunity to do something about the grip cancer has, Leum dove right in — literally.

For the last five years, Leum has swam in 40 degree water from Alcatraz to San Francisco, all in efforts of raising money for cancer research.

But he didn't want to stop there. This year, Leum joined the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centers Climb to Fight and climbed Mount Hood the following day. 

"I'm not smart enough to figure out a cure for cancer, but I can climb for a cause," Leum said.

Leum, along with his search and rescue friends and son, started the climb earlier this month up Mount Hood at 2 a.m. Climbers were faced with 18 inches of snow, high winds and extremely low visibility.

"The challenge of climbing Mount Hood, that's a one day challenge," Leum said. "People with cancer, they are fighting that mountain every single day."

At 700 feet, the team had to turn back due to avalanche danger; however, they vowed to never give up on the fight for a cure.

Overall, Leum and his team have raised $136,000 from the climbs they have made thus far.

If you would like to learn more about The Climb to Fight Cancer, click here

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