TASNEEM Habib is fretting about weight.
She’s about to set off on an expedition to climb to Everest base camp for a cancer charity and can only take 15kg in her rucsack.
“Can I squeeze enough coffee in, will I have enough teabags – what about clothes, thermals, water – it’s not even about the climb, it’s all about the weight,” says the former Head Girl of Bridley Moor High School, who now works in the cancer division of pharmaceutical giant Roche in Tucson, Arizona.
Taz is in Redditch to say hello to her family before flying out to Katmandu via Dubai to join 14 other hardy souls who are doing the climb to raise money for the Imran Khan Cancer Appeal.
“They say one in three people will be affected by cancer – I’m passionate about science, it’s what I do as a career but I’m also passionate about helping people,” said Taz, who’s fund-raising efforts have backing Redditch Lions for the Rory the Robot appeal at the Alexandra Hospital.
“I really value the National Health Service here – in the United States it’s not good, it’s a business, and I am so grateful for what we have here,” she said.
“In Pakistan, as you might imagine, there is a lot of poverty – it’s not just a question of people being unable to afford treatment it’s the diagnosis in the first place that they’re not getting.
“I heard of a woman who had mouth cancer who was travelling four to six hours to get treatment in Lahore, but not only was she being treated but she was also getting her bus fare reimbursed.
“It was being done through Imran Khan’s Cancer Appeal.
Growing up in Redditch, I always supported Imran Khan as a cricketer so it seemed natural to support his charity too.”
That support extends to donating her ‘zakat’ – a portion of her salary and one of the pillars of Islam – to the charity and also embarking on this incredible adventure.
Along the way she’s skydived for the cause over the Palm Jumairah in Dubai and now, this week, she’s in Katmandu ready to climb.
“We’ve got two days of acclimatisation and I’m concerned how I’m going to get on as I struggled to breathe during the skydive from 13,000ft,” she said.
“They say take it slowly, don’t rush ahead, let your body adjust and ease yourself in, so we’ll see how it goes.”
If all is well on Monday, October 15 Taz should hike beyond Everest base camp to 5,555 metres – over 18,000ft – to see the sunrise over the iconic mountain.
She will then return to Katmandu before flying back to Birmingham and Redditch and then off to the US to resume her work.
“I’ve got my eye on more challenges next year, but cancer is really the focus and I hope I can raise as much money as possible,” she said.
To support Taz visit www.justgiving.com/TasneemEverest