Ten years ago Marceline Billis weighed almost 300 pounds and couldn’t even walk across the street without becoming short of breath. After years spent working out to get her weight under control, earlier this month she accomplished a task that many at her age can only dream of. On August 15, at 76 years old Marceline managed to climb to the summit of Mt. Cheam near Chilliwack.
“It wasn’t easy,” says Billis of her grueling trip to the top. “The bones don’t do what you want them to do anymore, and there are plenty of aches and pains.”
Regardless, with the help of a few patient friends, including Dr. Darren Paul who originally suggested the idea, she managed one step at a time.
Dr. Paul first asked Billis if she wanted to try hiking the mountain when her visits to his office for chiropractic checkups dwindled from once a week to once a month.
“I thought he was kidding,” admits Billis, who took him up on the challenge immediately. Although she failed to reach the summit on her first attempt, she gave it another try soon after. “I had to stop every ten feet to catch my breath,” says Billis, “but we made it in three hours.”
She recalls the moment she stood on top of Mt. Cheam, knowing all that it had taken to get there from where she had been a decade earlier. “It was life changing for me,” says Billis. “I remember my mother many years ago saying ‘it is better to try and fail than never having tried at all.” She now has her own message for those who want to live to a healthy old age, “get off your butts!” says Billis, “because it’s not activity that’s your demise, it is inactivity.”
With her sights set on even bigger mountains as she begins approaching her eighties, she says there are some people who tell her to “act her age.” To that she simply replies, “Who decides at my age what I can, or cannot do, but me?”