Climb for Cancer

Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Chair Shows Dedication by Climbing for Cancer

At the end of July, William Slayton, M.D., pediatric hematology/oncology chair, journeyed to Peru for an adventure of a lifetime – to climb Machu Picchu with the Climb for Cancer Foundation. Having reached a milestone birthday this year, it seemed fitting to set off on this expedition with his 15-year-old son, Ben. They were joined by UF Health physical therapist, Barbara Bour, who works in the outpatient pediatric hematology/oncology clinic, and 10 others.

Group WEB
Group photo at the Inca Trail

Dr. Slayton flew to Lima, Peru on July 31, spent the day there and then flew to Cusco, Peru the next day. Before journeying up the Inca Trail, which leads to Machu Picchu along a daring and scenic route through the mountains, they spent one day acclimating to the increased elevation by experiencing native Peruvian culture with visits to a weaving factory, sacred and agricultural sites, as well as sampling local delicacies.

They climbed their way through the Inca Trail for four days, which included three mountain passes up to 13,800 feet. On the fourth day, they reached the “Sun Gate,” the entrance to Machu Picchu, nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. Concluding their trip, they descended down into Machu Picchu, where they toured the ancient city before taking a bus to Aguas Calientes and then a train back into Cusco.

The expedition wasn’t without its challenges, from the Peruvian winter temperatures to the rough terrain. But, Dr. Slayton believes it was well worth it, likening it to what his patients encounter every day throughout their cancer treatments. “It’s extremely challenging, both mentally and physically, but each day you wake up not knowing what lies ahead, and you keep climbing,” said Dr. Slayton. It also taught his son self-confidence and that he can accomplish anything he puts his mind to.

Dr. Slayton, Son and Barbara Bour at Sun Gate WEB
Barbara Bour, Ben Slayton and Dr. Slayton at Sun Gate
Dr. Slayton and Son WEB
Dr. Slayton with son, Ben

The Climb for Cancer Foundation is a local not-for-profit, co-founded by Ron and Dianne Farb, whose mission is to ease the pain and suffering of those affected by cancer. The organization has worked with UF Health Shands Hospital for several years, supporting various areas of patient care and well-being, ranging from nursing education and training to gift cards for gas and food during treatment. Ron Farb has climbed the highest mountain on five of the seven continents, helping the foundation raise more than$1.5 million for cancer research and related support programs.

Climbers on this most recent Machu Picchu trip raised more than $12,000 for the foundation.

Dr. Slayton dedicated his climb to his parents: his mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and his dad was an oncologist.