20. Lila Javan: 3x Cancer Survivor & Climb2Cure for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

by Heather Burgett


You find your heartbreak, and then you work to fix it.” 

– Lila Javan

On this episode of “The Shine Strategy,” I’m proud to introduce to you a dynamic woman and longtime dear friend of mine, Lila Javan. We attended high school together at Northfield Mount Hermon, and who would have known all those years ago that Lila would become a 3x cancer survivor and the founder of Climb2Cure for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), raising over $2 million to date for cancer research.

In 2010, Lila’s life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia, AML. After intense treatment and a bone marrow transplant, Lila went almost four years of being cancer-free but relapsed two more times: in 2014, and again in 2018. She has survived aggressive chemotherapy treatment and multiple bone marrow and stem cell transplants—one from her sister and also from a stranger in Germany (thanks to Be The Match). 

Just before her relapse in 2014, Lila was planning a solo trip to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The very week that she was booking flights, she discovered that her cancer was back. While in the hospital, a friend designed a window frame with a beautiful photograph of Kilimanjaro in it and hung it on the wall opposite her bed. Throughout her treatment, Lila would stare at that window and visualize herself climbing the mountain. Her doctors and nurses all asked about the picture and soon her solo trip became a group trip comprised of 12 doctors, nurses, therapists and friends. 

Lila then reached out to LLS to see if they could do the trek as a fundraiser for research, and “Climb2Cure” was born. Her solo climb evolved into a new LLS Team In Training fundraising platform that will continue for years to come and is expanding to other mountain tops. Lila’s team raised an astonishing $133,000 for their first climb. To date, climbers have raised over $2M for cancer research. 

Lila’s strength is unbelievable. She is not only one of the physically strongest people I know, but her will and spirit are a shining example of how the energy you carry can literally heal you. Using visualization, she was able to look at her treatment as “training” which powered her through the rough days. She was able to run the LA marathon a mere 6 months after her first transplant! 

You won’t want to miss her unbelievable story and learn what you can do to continue to support the fight against cancer. 


When you get a cancer diagnosis it feels like your life is over. It feels like you’re going to be a different person. Things will shift and change. I’m not sugar-coating—it’s not easy. But you can still be YOU. You need to hold onto those things that you believe in. Give yourself goals that you can think forward on. That will really help you get through any diagnosis and any issue.” 

-Lila Javan



  • About visualization and how it helped Lila push through her incredibly intense treatments.  
  • How you might have the cure to cancer in your blood and could save a life–and how easy it is to donate through Be the Match.
  • About climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and why “slow and steady wins the race” both in reaching the summit and as a metaphor for life.
  •  The advancements LLS has made and how close they are to finding a cure to cancer.
  •  How LLS has been instrumental in 80% of all major cancer research breakthroughs.
  • About the incredible, heart-warming work of BeTheMatch.com and how it goes beyond donorship.
  • About the power of positivity and why attitude matters.
  • The secrets to what I call the “Lila Effect” that started a whole movement.


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