This past year, Sarah Carter spent her days in slim skirts and stiletto heels for her role as Madeline Poe on CBS' "Shark." At this moment, she's climbing a mountain for breast cancer research.
Sarah Carter is an actress with a hit television show. She was up at 4:30, a.m. and home at 10 p.m. No time to do anything else but focus on the job at hand. Yes, indeed, after nine months as a lead in a network drama, Sarah's ready for something a little easier, like climbing a mountain.
On June 15, Sarah took off with 34 other men and women, all breast cancer survivors and supporters, in the Breast Cancer Fund's Climb Against the Odds. Carter and her entourage of hope are scaling Mt. Shasta, a 14,162 feet trek. Their purpose is to raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund and to show the world that anything can be done if you put your mind to it.
Before heading up the mountain, Sarah sat down with me to talk about the climb, women's health issues, and the role of women in this world.
SK: I hear you're going to climb a mountain?
Sarah Carter: I'm going to climb a mountain.
SK: So of course, I gotta ask the question. Why?
Sarah Carter: Why? As the date gets closer I'm actually asking myself that same thing! (laughs) I'm doing it because I like the metaphor. First of all, I do challenges like this every year. I hiked off the coast of Vancouver, I cycled the Ice Fields Parkway. I grew up in the woods; I guess it's my Canadian heritage, but I've never climbed a mountain!
Second, it's for the Breast Cancer Fund. My Mom was diagnosed when I was 19 with breast cancer and then later my Aunt. I never involved myself with walks for the cure or anything that was too immersed in the disease, but when the Breast Cancer Fund crossed my path I really connected with the organization as a whole because they offer hope. They don't talk about the disease being something that is killing all of us, they don't even refer to breast cancer survivors as survivors in a victimization way. They really take on the perspective that this is an indication that there's a disconnect between ourselves and the earth and we need to take care of our bodies and take care of the planet.
In the European union, there are eleven hundred toxic chemicals banned from cosmetics and food. Only 10 of those chemicals are banned from the US. That's kind of terrifying. There's no mistake that woman are being hit with this epidemic. We're being inundated with toxic chemicals and we don't need to be.
SK: But this is the planet we live on. How do you protect yourself?
Sarah Carter: That's what the Breast Cancer Fund addresses. The problem is that you go to the grocery store, you go to restaurants, you're living your life and you wanna be safe. It's not every individual's responsibility to have a chemistry degree. So they go straight to the federal government and they're effecting health regulations at a federal level and that's really the only way you can have an effect.
All of the money raised for the Breast Cancer Fund goes to researchers who have political impact like Dr. Pete Myers (author of "Our Stolen Future") who's devoted his career to studying (the effects of environmental contaminants on human health).
He got Walmart to take off plastic baby bottles from the shelves because of the presence of Bisphenol A, which is nothing in terms of where it needs to go because all plastic containers have this toxic chemical and its affecting all of us.
SK: But you could drive yourself to panic. I mean, if you if you really thought about just these few things that you've said in the past few minutes and multiply that times all the stuff that's out there, you'd never leave the house.
Sarah Carter: Exactly. But there are easy steps that you can take. You buy organic food when you can, when you can being the operative component. You get outside, develop a relationship with nature. House cleaning products, cosmetic products; really try to invest in things that are healthy for you and all natural. But mainly the information is there for you to strike up conversation with other women.
Women throughout history have been the storytellers and we truly effect change, constantly, at a grassroots level, just through taking care of each other and that is all that we can do. The reality, as you say, is the reality. And they're in no way trying to instill fear. They're actually trying inspire life with activities like the mountain climb. [The Breast Cancer Fund] is a positive organization.
SK: How long is this whole process going to take? The physical climbing of the mountain?
Sarah Carter: The whole event is five days and the first three are just to acclimate ourselves to the altitude and also bond with the rest of the team. Then the actual climb is 14 hours. We leave at midnight and then climb consistently to the summit, no stopping.
SK: Why midnight?
Sarah Carter: Because of the light, so that you get to the summit for sundown and then there's enough light to make it all the way down.
SK: What's the weather going to be like?
Sarah Carter: It's snow and ice. I'm praying for clear, blue skies, but last year they actually had an avalanche scare, which is very rare for this time of year. No one anticipates an avalanche. If they were I wouldn't be going! But it's mountain weather. It's sketchy.
SK: Are you at all concerned about the situation you're putting yourself into.
Sarah Carter: We're in very good hands. Last year, Jen and Chris Carr led the group and everyone was safe in the face of the avalanche. Everyone made it down. They've never had a problem. But it is a high-risk sport, it's an extreme sport. We've been learning how to rescue each other from crevices and you have to know what you're doing. I'm really not nervous, I'm very excited.
Up next...Sarah talks about staying fit, future projects, kids and yes, that mountain...