Social Times

The past couple months I have had some nice times with friends. On March 1st, I helped organize a?birthday party for Cindy Chiu. Cindy is one of my best friends; she was the caregiver/friend organizer while I was on the waiting list for a lung transplant two and a half years ago. Back then, I really needed a lot of love and help and I will never forget how she cared for me during hard times. We went climbing at Planet Granite in Belmont, then went out to dinner at the Joy Luck Palace restaurant. It was great celebrating her special day. We ordered 12 different dishes, including “duck tongues.” I didn’t have the courage to try that one!

Dave has been off work, but he continues to get stronger and walk without crutches. He has recently started climbing, biking on a stationary bicycle, and hiking. We have spent a lot of time together during these months he has been on disability, including playing Scrabble. He has started to beat me, so I’d better study some word lists!

I have also been climbing with Rhona and her young twin girls, Maya and Zoe. They are all developing in their ability to climb harder routes. The girls now have harnesses, and have ordered shoes! I made little achievement charts for them to record their progress.

I have been climbing with my roommate Tyndall quite often. We sometimes climb the same routes at the gym. I have been working on mostly 5.10c/d’s but I got up to the top of a 5.12a overhang with only three rests on Monday night. So climbing is going well.

My latest joy was going over to the Levin family’s house to celebrate Joshua’s birthday, which was?back in February. I got him a light-up Frisbee, which we tried out after dinner, along with table tennis and Scrabble, around 11 p.m. (much to his mother’s dismay.) Dinner was delicious; it was made by Richard; it was a tasty orzo pasta dish.  I had to have three servings of it, and skip the dessert. Later, Carrie beat me in both table tennis and Scrabble–I will have to practice more!

Spinach Explosion

Hola, Tori! Thanks for the note from Panama. We continue to appreciate this website.

As I write, I am covered with spinach from head to toe. I’m not dressing up in costume for some nutrition educational event… no, it was a case of being quite unfamiliar with the vita-max food processor in the new kitchen! Little did I know, it was on “High” and that means HIGH. The top flew off, the machine made a loud buzzing noise, and all the soup sprayed onto everything in sight, including me.

Time for a shower!


I’m now finally done with cleaning spinach off myself, the windows, stove, can opener, cupboards, toaster, coffeemaker, etc. It took about two hours, and the soup didn’t even turn out. I guess I win some, and lose some…back to stir-frys and more familiar recipes.

The new house is very impressive. I have two friendly roommates, Tyndall and Roy. They both keep everything really clean, and Tyndall is always working on projects around the house. Today, he built a step for the garden. He is also a climber, so sometimes we go to the gym. The most beautiful thing about the house is the mahagony wooden floor downstairs. It is so nice, I feel like using the “Swiffer” vacuum on it constantly. (Tomorrow I’ll mop, due to the spinach problem today.)

A Climber’s Thanksgiving Gift

Felix, thanks for your note! I am glad you are eating well.

Here is a story I wrote about my transplant experience for all to enjoy. It’s a bit long, but it’s the shortened version!

A Climber’s Thanksgiving Gift

by Stacey Collver
Unknowingly, I was about to reach the crux of my life. But I remember shedding only a few tears that fateful August afternoon in 2003.

“I have some good news, and some bad news,” the doctor had begun. The good news is that we have answers for you. We know why you’re short of breath. You don’t have asthma; you have a rare lung disease called Lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM for short.” He paused for a second, getting ready for his next announcement. “There is no cure for this disease, except to get a lung transplant. The survival rate of five years after the transplant is not great, but without the transplant we expect you to live less than two years.”

“Two years?” I whispered in a feeble voice. I became numb, and shivered in my tank top, both from the diagnosis and the cold air of the air conditioning. Confusion set in. At 35, I prided myself on being in the best shape of my life, competing in rock-climbing competitions and coaching a beloved youth climbing team. I was the president of a national women”s rock-climbing club, sheclimbs, inc.

Confusion turned to tears. I wept alone, quietly, until the social worker appeared. She listened compassionately and started me on the road to handling my new challenges. That afternoon, the doctor prescribed supplemental oxygen and arranged for the tanks to be delivered to my house the following day.

At first I only used the oxygen when I exercised, which consisted of mostly rock-climbing. For 2 months, my lung function held steady. My muscles were still strong and I continued my life as usual. After work, I continued to enjoy climbing by taping a 57′ cord to my face and ascending the gym walls, leaving the portable oxygen tank on the ground.

I was determined to keep having fun at the sport. Climbing was always a great way to spend time with friends and a therapeutic way to forget life’s problems for the moment. When I first started using the oxygen, it was an extra boost and I even set some personal records using it. At the end of August, I took a trip to Yosemite with my friend Mark and climbed the boulders around the historic Camp 4. In September, I climbed at Indian Rock in Berkeley. I continued to guide trips for my team kids to nearby Castle Rock in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with the help of the kids and parents, who carried the oxygen tanks.

By October of 2003, however, I started using oxygen 24/7. Daily chores were more difficult, and my mother, Laura Jeanchild, moved in with me to help me cook and clean.

On my 36th birthday, I had a big fundraiser at the gym where I worked, Twisters Climbing Gym. About 80 people attended, and the event raised enough money to enable me to quit work and start living on disability checks.
When she had heard of my diagnosis, my friend, Tori Winters, made an incredible website ( which contained a profile, pictures, and a daily journal to record the news of my everyday life and communicate with friends and family around the world. The journal was so important during this time. I wrote about my hopes and dreams, my observations about nature, and my changing view of the world and humanity due to my recent experiences.

One thing that kept my spirit alive was the international campaign started by past president Carolyn McHale, through the sheclimbs, inc. Sheclimbs members from all over the world got sponsors and started climbing mountains in my honor. The first summit was Mt. Washington, and it went on to summits in Estonia, Latvia, Colorado, Georgia, Mexico. In addtion, there was an annual climb-a-thon in December which brought in much needed funds. Every year, climbers came together, got sponsors, and ascended over 29,035 feet (the height of Mt. Everest) in a climbing gym. The summits were such a great honor and they kept my mind off my weakening state.

The waiting went on. A year passed. I was starting to get depressed, because I didn’t have the energy to do fun things and it was hard to be alone most of the day. Then the physical fear set in…at night I was short of breath and could not sleep, even with the oxygen turned up full blast. By October of 2004, I had trouble talking and laughing. I was dying. My lungs were failing, and I was at the end-stage of lung disease. Would I live to the transplant? One-third of patients die waiting for their transplants. It was beginning to look grim.

On November 21st, 2004, the real “call” came! My friends and family came to the hospital, and I was wheeled into the operating room at midnight. The surgery went very well, and I was making a strong recovery. In the ICU, I could not talk because of the tube in my mouth, and I excitedly wrote notes to my friends, and waved at the doctors and nurses. On the third day, I could stand up out of bed, even with the myriad of tubes connected to so many parts of my body.

By Thanksgiving, a few days later, I was able to take walks around the hospital corridors, and in the following week I walked religiously. The doctors stressed that exercise was very important for gaining strength back. By the time of my discharge, two and a half weeks out from the surgery, I was walking a mile throughout the day.

I was released from the hospital and lived with my mother and friend Dave at the Home apartments, located only three blocks from the hospital. For the next month, I had daily appointments at the hospital for drug treatments, clinic visits, x-rays, and physical therapy. I also had several bronchoscopies, small operations in which the doctors sample the lung tissue and check for rejection or infection.

Due to the excellent food provided by my mother, and exercise sessions with Dave, I continued to grow stronger over the next couple months. Each week, I could breathe easier, and walk further and faster than before. In-between medical appointments, Dave and I became obsessed with climbing flights of stairs. By two and a half months out, I was able to complete 100 flights in a couple hours.

At the three-month point, I fell seriously ill to three causes: the CMV virus, influenza, and pneumonia. Within a few days, I was back in the ICU with a face mask on. To get through the trauma of not being able to breathe, I imagined that I was climbing Mt. Everest, and taking a single breath with each step.

I spent the next seven weeks in the hospital, barely able to get out of bed, and feeling nauseated most of the time. My mother lived with me in the hospital room for the first few weeks. My friends and family visited every day, sometimes just sitting and holding my hand when I was too weak to talk. They brought food, gifts, books to read and movies to watch. Most of all they brought hope that life was going to get better, and this illness would pass. It was their compassion that kept my spirit strong. To keep my eye on the future, I hung up climbing posters of my friends Hans, Scott and Lynn in my hospital room and talked about the sport to the staff when I felt well enough to be social. On good days, I walked to the computer room and wrote in my journal.

It was a humbling time. This second brush with death made me realize how truly vulnerable I was, as opposed to my previous view of myself as invincible. The doctors keep me on IV medicines for weeks, waiting for me to get strong enough to have gall bladder surgery. Eventually, I did recover and underwent the surgery, and was released from the hospital.

The waiting game and the transplant experience turned my world inside out. It gave me a new respect for life, and for the people who showed compassion for me throughout my crisis. It taught me about humility, some broken dreams, and my own mortality. It was the worst of times, but in some ways, the best of times–at certain points I had never felt more loved. My recovery was a team effort of my mother, Dave and all my family and friends. The support from the climbing community was a warm surprise, and continues to this day. And through it all, I strive to keep up the climbing spirit and stay strong.


A week before my birthday, I was lucky enough to have a visit from my mother, Laura, who organized my house and cooked and cleaned the whole time she was here! I was busy coaching soccer every day, and she spent her time going to Mollie Stone’s grocery store, and preparing delicious lunches and dinners. In the mornings, I woke up to the smell of big breakfasts already prepared. I will say, she has a lot of motherly energy! I really appreciated her work.

Another big favor she did was she bought a new pair of glasses for me, which is something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. It had been 7 years since I had my eyes checked, and the prescription was very outdated. It turns out that I have been going around with only 80% vision, so I got a new prescription and happily wore my new specs on my birthday.

?On the Monday after my birthday, my aunt, Lorraine and cousin Brenda took me out for a sushi lunch at Miyaki’s. It was a mouth-watering treat and wonderful time.

Not long after my mother visited, Felix popped over for an overnight stay. He is in the Bay Area and has been getting around?by train and bike, crashing at different people’s houses every night. He carries a 30 lb. backpack while riding his bike and sometimes bikes over 20 miles a day getting around! “You look like a hobo!” I teased. We had a delicious salmon dinner and breakfast burritos in the morning, and then climbed at Planet Granite with Alyssa. Felix, our athletic wonder, not only runs ultra-marathons, but also bikes double-century rides (200 miles in a day!) and climbs like a pro. That morning, Felix and I both made it to the top of a 5.12a with just a few falls.

Alyssa also attended the birthday party on October 8th, and has provided some interesting pictures! Just click below.

The Busy Life

Hi Joshua,

Thanks so much for your message on the website. I really appreciate hearing from you now that we don’t run into each other that much. I’m sure Eva will appreciate your sweet thoughts. Thanks also for offering to do a speed demo at the December 3rd Mount Everest Climb-a-thon. It will be inspiring for everyone.

Hi Felix,

It was great to talk to you the other day. I am looking forward to seeing you when you come out to visit. You should be here for?my Mountain of Youth birthday party on Sunday, October 8th, when we can all be kids again and climb rocks, play soccer and eat cake.

Life since the new job has been extremely busy. Gone are the days of sleeping in; six days per week I am up by 7 a.m. and on the go until 10 p.m. Gone are the days of a clean house; dishes pile up, the laundry is in a mound. Gone are the days of having a clean car…it is now stuffed full with four bags of soccer balls, four goals, 40 cones and disks, field paint, and colored vests. I spend my days driving from site to site, setting up, teaching, and breaking down at different fields. After work most of the time, I still go to the climbing or badminton gym, or go to my Chinese class. Sometimes I just go home and eat, because I am too tired to do anything else.

Most of my classes are Mommy, Daddy and me classes. The kids are 2-3 years old, and attend class with their parents or nannies. The parents, much to their dismay, are required to run around with the kids and demonstrate all the skills, so junior gets the idea. It is quite impressive how most of the kids are able to get the idea of kicking the soccer ball, dribbling it around, and not picking it up with their hands. We play fun games like running to the colored flags, pretending to be a chicken with the soccer ball egg, and chasing Mommy or Daddy, who has a colored vest stuck in the back of the pants (for a tail.) The large classes (20 kids, plus 20 parents) are especially amusing. It’s controlled chaos with 20 little people chasing soccer balls, and 20 big people chasing after them.

A job at KidzLoveSoccer!

After a humbling job hunt, I have found work as a full-time coach teaching soccer. I taught my first class yesterday with Coach Roberto and Coach Avis.

We arrived at the German-American school at 1:45 to set up the field. The kids streamed out of their classrooms and started putting on their soccer equipment. This was a big deal, since several kids needed help tying their shoes. Then they all came over to the field and Coach Roberto gave some instructions. He was funny and kind. For roll call, he had the kids give the coaches high-fives. At first, I pretended that the kids were too strong and it hurt when they slapped my hand. Seeing this reaction, several of the boys started enthusiastically hitting my hand so hard that it really DID start to hurt, so I had to change my approach and say, “not too hard now…” instead.

The next game was “Chase the Coach.” Roberto asked the kids who the fastest coach was, and the conclusion was that Avis, the 18 year-old, was the fastest. So all the kids raced Avis to this flag, and that flag, and they cheated by starting way ahead, so they almost won. But Avis got to the flags first.

Then we played “Downtown Traffic” and everyone dribbled their soccer balls in a small space, trying not to hit each other. If the balls collided, the drivers had to go “get them fixed” by going to the line and tapping the balls five times.

The next game was called “Thanksgiving Turkey.” Roberto put colored flags in the back of his shorts, while all the kids chased him while dribbling their soccer balls and trying to pull the flags out of his pants. Next, it was Avis’s turn. Roberto advised him not to put the flags too far down inside his pants and to pull his pants up…

After the turkey game, we broke the kids up into four teams and had them play scrimmages. I was impressed at some of their skills. At Kidz Love Soccer, we try to emphasize S.E.L.F. (Sportsmanship, Effort, Learning, Fun.) Every time a kid scored, we reminded them that the score at KLS is always fun-to-fun.

If you are interested, here is the website:

Life is precious

Two weeks ago, my friend Eva’s niece, Amanda, and nephew, Alec, were killed in a car accident. They were only 9 and 7 years old. Their mother was speeding and didn’t have seatbelts on the kids.

All of a sudden, every moment we had together was precious: the trips to Golden Gate Park, the swimming pool, the local parks. I spent a lot of time with them while I was sick these past couple years.

We made photo collages of their lives, as we remembered them: laughing, playing, loving life. I attended the wake, and their bodies were not them. I will remember them as they were alive–fun-loving, caring children with a seemingly full life ahead of them. Nothing can be taken for granted; not even youth. It was sad for everyone, but the person who wailed the loudest was the one who had cut off ties with the family completely before they were killed. I guess there is no going back once the chance to love is gone.

Climbing day trips

Mary, it was great to see you for dinner. Thanks for taking “time out” to have a nice evening together. When I wrote “How We Will Be Remembered,” I never imagined an incident that would cut straight to the chase. (See entry above.)

The past two weeks I have been spending a lot of time climbing with friends from my women’s climbing club(sheclimbs). It’s been fun to make new friends, spend time together, and help each other become stronger climbers. It’s social, and at the same time, physical. We patiently hold the ropes for each other as we scale 30-50′ walls. Each Monday night I set aside for the club at the gym, and on the last two weekends I’ve had the opportunity to go outdoor climbing with them, to local places like Berkeley and Summit Rock.

One of the climbers, Alyssa, is a very good writer and photographer! Check out this trip report, complete with route descriptions and photos! Click here

Looking for a Job

Hi Rob, thanks for changing the light bulb when you were over!

Lately I’ve been searching for jobs every day, and have found a few interesting leads.?Today I have an interview with Prime Time Athletic Club. I am really hoping it will go well! I am also applying with the school district, a non-profit girls organization, and the Center for the Independence of the Disabled.

Last night, I met Robin Reasoner and her Upwardly Mobile Leadership Group for Women…at the climbing gym. We had a great time climbing. Robin climbs once a year, but she can still hold her own on a 5.9. She was busy coaching all her friends! I was happy to get up a 5.11d with two falls…very challenging! Afterwards, the lawyer group treated me to sushi with everyone else. It was?absolutely delicious!