HATTIESBURG, MS. - Dr. Arthur Martin, 62, a Cardiologist for Hattiesburg Clinic, has been cancer free for nearly two and half years.
After losing his hearing and endurance as a triathlon athlete through chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Dr. Martin decided to set a challenging goal for himself — climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.
Since his early 50's Dr. Martin has been a triathlon athlete. At the age of 59 he even completed a full Iron Man.
“After that my brother taught me to do obstacle course races, did 3 Spartan races, did 3 distances, so I can get my trifecta metal for all Spartan races.”
Unbeknown to him and at the age of 59, Dr. Martin, was training for the full Iron Man with tonsil cancer.
“It was during the end of that season, where I started having lymph nodes enlarging in my neck and I thought I must have lymphoma" he said.
"But I went ahead and did my last race of the season before seeing my doctor and checking that out" said Dr. Martin.
He continued, "It turned out to be metastatic cancer for my tonsil, squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsils.” After his diagnosis Dr. Martin went through three doses of chemotherapy and radiation.
“I was off work for 5 months, I went from being an endurance athlete to lying on the couch." It was the first dose of chemotherapy and radiation where he lost his hearing.
He said, “But with the hearing loss and ordinary sounds being exaggerated, I could not watch television, my head was too foggy to read, and music which has been the love of my life is gone, its just screechy distortion."
Despite losing his hearing and endurance as a triathlon athlete, Dr. Martin decided to not set limits on himself and climb the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with his twin brother and their daughters.
He said, “Oh sure it was very challenging on that last night, it was not just walking, it was scrambling up mountains, it was more rock climbing than it was hiking.”
Dr. Martin did not wear his hearing aids throughout the entire climb due to the climate changes.
“Something about being in the natural area of the mountain, it was just a calm, cool. The sound of artificial sound is an abomination of the natural sound" Dr. Martin said.
It took Dr. Martin 5 days to reach the summit. He managed to reach the top on his birthday.
"And after spending the week with my daughter, just really bonding with her, not knowing I would ever think I could do something like this again" he said.
He continued, "And I got 100 feet from the summit and I really couldn’t stop the tears from falling. It was very, very emotional, very moving, one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life.”
Since his diagnosis and experience with cancer, Dr. Martin said he has more empathy will all of his patients. He said his patients are what helps him continue to keep going in life.
As far as climbing to the top of another mountain, Dr. Martin said he will play it by ear.