Pretty in pink

Danette Dooley
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Mountain climber TA Loeffler may hate the colour, but she's willing to put up to help with the fight against breast cancer

Six pink rollers stick out of TA Loeffler's short curly hair. She hauls pink hockey socks on over pink checked pajamas and pulls a pink jacket on over a pink-and-white breast cancer awareness T-shirt.

To top it all off, Loeffler wraps a pink feather boa around her neck - a perfect match for her hot-pink toenails.

Six pink rollers stick out of TA Loeffler's short curly hair. The mountain-climbing Memorial University professor knows her silly appearance will attract a lot of attention and help her raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation of Canada.- Photo by Dan

Six pink rollers stick out of TA Loeffler's short curly hair. She hauls pink hockey socks on over pink checked pajamas and pulls a pink jacket on over a pink-and-white breast cancer awareness T-shirt.

To top it all off, Loeffler wraps a pink feather boa around her neck - a perfect match for her hot-pink toenails.

"How do I look?" she asks, picking up a large pink and blue climbing rope and slinging it over her shoulder.

She knows the answer is outlandish.

The mountain-climbing Memorial University professor also knows her silly appearance will attract a lot of attention and help her raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation of Canada.

Loeffler despises the colour pink normally, but it's the colour that symbolizes the fight against breast cancer - a fight that her mother, Denise, has fought and won.

"Mom was diagnosed seven years ago," she says.

"She was very lucky because they found it by accident. She'd gone for her annual mammogram, and (in Edmonton), where she lives, the technician also does a manual breast exam."

The mammogram didn't detect the lump, but the technician did.

"She underwent a mastectomy and has been five years cancer-free now," Loeffler says.

Breast cancer is a fight Loeffler says she could find herself battling one day.

"Some days, for me, it's not 'if' I'm going to get breast cancer - some days it's 'when,'" she said, adding that there are risk factors that make her more likely to get the disease.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when Loeffler normally participates in the CIBC Race for the Cure.

However, this year she'll be in Nepal attempting to become the first Canadian woman to summit Mount Pumori, a 7,161-metre peak across the valley from Mount Everest.

Loeffler's "pink outside the box" fundraising campaign will be in full force the week of Sept. 15-19 .

It will see her dressing in pink items provided by supporters who donate $20 towards her cause.

The fundraiser is also part of her "Pumori: Climb for Awareness" quest which she's dedicated to her mother and to others - men and women - who have battled breast cancer.

"I want this climb to have more meaning than me covering a particular piece of ground or getting to the top of something," she says.

Loeffler is intent on raising $1 for every metre of the peak, for a total of $7,161.

All money raised through the climb and through the pink outside the box campaign will go directly to Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Atlantic Region, she says.

"And, if by the end of next week, we get to the halfway mark ($3,581) then I'll die my hair pink," she said.

Loeffler will be the only woman on the climb among the 15 people from various parts of the world.

The name Pumori, she says, translates as "Everest's daughter."

Loeffler recently conquered Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Pumori climb will help her decide if she'll make a second attempt at Everest.

"I chose the peak because it's a technical training expedition for Everest-bound climbers," she says.

Loeffler's mother is one of her main supporters.

"Mom is always nervous and scared when I go off on a climb. But she's very touched about this and very proud," she said.

"She was one of the first to donate."

Loeffler leaves for the Pumori expedition Sept. 29.

The team begins its trek towards base camp Oct. 4 and hopes to reach the top by Oct. 25.

Those who wish to follow the progress of the climb or donate to the cause should check out Loeffler's website: www.taloeffler.com.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Breast Cancer Foundation of Canada, CIBC Race, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Geographic location: Edmonton, Nepal, Mount Everest Atlantic Region Mount Kilimanjaro

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