What most people don’t know about me is that I’ve struggled with scoliosis for 15 years.

For anyone who doesn’t know, scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine.

For 5 years, I needed to see a chiropractor every 2 weeks to adjust my spine alignment. If I missed a session, my body would be in so much pain it would become difficult to stand.

Growing up with a family restaurant, I had the opportunity to work as a waitress for many years. However, the constant stress of being on my feet and lifting multiple heavy plates was not always the physical demand my body could keep up with due to my physical condition.

When I started traveling, my initial fear was what would happen to me when I missed that first two-week session to re-align my spine. I had booked a 35-day trip throughout Southern Africa where I would be camping whilst traveling on rough overland roads and there would certainly be no chance to see a chiropractor.

Sure enough, exactly two weeks from my last session and the pain hit me. Luckily I was traveling with my now-boyfriend and had enough to keep me preoccupied to ignore the pain.

Overtime, my condition got better and I stopped going to my chiropractor appointments.

For years, I haven’t had the fear of my scoliosis overtaking my physical endurance until I booked my Kilimanjaro trek. I knew that I would be on my feet for 5-8 hours each day, carrying a backpack of minimum 5lbs. (That may not seem like much, but to me it sounded terrifying.)

At 14 years old, I had to stop wearing backpacks due to the stress weighing down on my shoulders and ultimately the scoliosis in my lower back. For the past 10 years I’ve only worn purses or side-bags to reduce the stress and so I can shift the weight from one shoulder to the other if I started to feel pain.

In my heart, the climb of Africa’s highest mountain was not the most difficult part, but carrying my own backpack for the entire way up.

Overall, I thankfully had no pain with my scoliosis throughout the entire trek – which I credit to having a great backpack with the proper weight support.

Although I didn’t reach the peak of Kilimanjaro, the journey of overcoming my physical disability and truly feeling that from this experience I can achieve anything means more to me than anyone can know. ❤️

Love J.J.


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