Well, here goes with my first ever blog post!
Earlier this week I signed myself up to the challenge of raising a minimum of £3800 for St Cuthbert’s Hospice, to take part in the Inca Trail Trek in May 2015, ending at the iconic Machu Picchu ruins.
The trek itself will take 4 days, it will include trekking for up to 8 hours a day, over rough terrain, at altitudes of up to 4200m and involving extreme temperatures and climate. And yet the challenge which has me more concerned is the challenge of being able to raise the minimum funds to take part! I’ve raised money for charity in the past, but not on this scale. In 2010 I took on the Ben Nevis Challenge, raising over £650 for Breast Cancer Care, and I’ve also taken part in sponsored walks and runs. But this challenge is in a totally different league to anything I have done before, and I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty scary, but exciting at the same time.
So why I am I putting myself through this? Good question.
It feels to me as if St Cuthbert’s Hospice has always been around, even as a kid I had a good awareness of the hospice (particularly as it is located right next to the park by my grandad’s house) and had a basic understanding that they looked after very sick people. My nana died as a result of breast cancer when I had just turned five, and the newly opened Hospice provided home care to her during her last months.
After my nana’s passing my grandad became a volunteer for the Hospice, driving patients to and from their homes so that they could receive the essential care and support they needed. As a child I remember meeting some of the patients that my grandad provided transport to, they were always nice and friendly, and I recall that one lady gave me £1, which was promptly spent on sweets! I couldn’t understand why these lovely people needed to go to the Hospice, they didn’t look very poorly to me, they were out of bed for a start, and at that young age I thought that all illnesses made you automatically bed bound! From that point on, I always understood that my grandad valued the work which the Hospice does for the community, and that he supported their work.
I didn’t need the services of St Cuthbert’s myself until a year ago, in 2012, when they helped and supported me through a very difficult time. In the space of just a few months I lost three family members to cancer; my Uncle Mark, my husband’s Aunty Jacqui, and my grandad. I found the death of my Uncle Mark very difficult to cope with, and was struggling to come to terms with all that I had seen throughout his illness. It was only a few weeks after his death when my grandad’s health deteriorated and we discovered that the bladder cancer he had been diagnosed with two years earlier was no longer treatable. As his health declined, we discovered that Jacqui’s cancer had also returned and that she had been diagnosed as having terminal cancer.
I found it harder and harder to cope with all that was been going on, and eventually had a bit of an emotional breakdown at work. Not knowing which way to turn I called the MacMillan helpline who told me to contact my local hospice to discuss bereavement counselling – I didn’t think that this was an option as none of my family members were patients at the hospice at the time (my uncle lived in Telford and was cared for by the Severn Hospice). From the first call to the St Cuthbert’s I felt that I was in good hands, a counselling session was made for me within the space of a few days and the counsellor was lovely. Our first session overran well past the working day, but I was never made to feel hurried or rushed, I knew I had all of the time in the world. My counselling sessions went on for a few months and I can’t tell you just how much of a positive impact it had on my life, and really turned my life around.
Now that I have come through such a difficult time and have lived to tell the tale, I want to give something back to St Cuthbert’s, so that they continue their great work and continue to help people through difficult times. That is why I have signed myself up to the Inca Trail Trek, a huge personal challenge for me that will require lots of hard work and dedication – to raise the minimum funds, and to do the Trek itself! I am doing the Trek in memory of my grandad, it seems fitting to take this challenge on when I’ll be raising funds for a great cause which meant a lot to my grandad, and means a lot to me.
Through this blog I aim to keep you updated with the highs and lows along the way, and anything else I can think of! Be warned though, I do have a tendency to talk about my pets, and films quite a bit so I may throw in a few surprises along the way.
To raise the minimum funds I am going to be asking all of my lovely friends and family to sponsor me, (so if you are reading this and you are a friend or family member, or indeed a kind stranger, please take a few moments to visit my JustGiving page), as well as any fundraising activity I think I can successfully pull off (more about those ideas in future posts)! If you have any suggestions on how I can raise funds, or can offer any support to help me achieve my financial goals then please get in touch.
Thanks for reading