Jill Wheatley was an active athlete, but in the blink of an eye, she suffered a traumatic brain injury that took 70% of her vision and nearly her life. Aiming now to climb all of the world’s 14 peaks that stand above 8000m as she breaks down the stigma associated with traumatic brain injury, vision loss and eating disorders, Wheatley shares with us her journey, perspective and resilience.
In 2014, Wheatley was a Sport Science and Physical Education teacher. While at work, she suffered a TBI and was treated and released with a “black eye.” She was soon after readmitted with what turned out to be a skull fracture with her brain bleeding and swelling. From there, she was in intensive care and faced intense challenges including physical, psychological and existential trauma and recovery from her TBI and a subsequent eating disorder.
Now celebrating impermanence and living each day to the fullest, she took up running mountain races for the first time in 2017, started skiing again in 2019, and summited her first mountain above 8000m (above 26,246 ft) in 2021. She is now finding “purpose among peaks” as she becomes the only Canadian female, regardless of adversities faced, to summit several of the mountains as she strives to climb all of the world’s 14 peaks above 8000m.