Why I’m walking

Way back at the beginning of this blog I wrote about the Edinburgh Moonwalk Marathon that I did to raise money for breast cancer charities. My friend, Correen and I had trained for months and we walked through the streets of Edinburgh in the dark with thousands of other women on the night before we emigrated (totally sensible, no?!)

It was a great experience and I was really proud of my achievement and of the money that I raised thanks to my generous friends and family.

I was hoping to find a similar event here but despite the fact that there are ‘Walk the Walk’ marathons in several countries, they haven’t come as far as Australia yet. (I hope they will though!)

A few months ago I was delighted when I saw an ad on telly for a 60km walk in Melbourne all to benefit the Peter Mac Cancer Centre (Australia’s only public cancer hospital – also one of the major centres of cancer research). I knew straight away that I was going to do it. It would be great to have another physical challenge to work towards. The only thing I was worried about was I was walking all by myself. Correen wouldn’t do the decent thing and fly over for it 😉 I asked the girls at work if any of them fancied it and our lovely nurse, Leesa, said that she would be my walking buddy – and Jacqui and Christie said that they would volunteer as support crew! Team SMC was born!

I didn’t realise at that time just significant our decision to walk would be …

About a month later Mum arrived at my door – she’d been to have her routine mammogram and an ultrasound (she gets both due to a strong family history of breast cancer.) – the US had picked up something and she was being sent to a specialist.

A little over a month later, Mum had undergone radical surgery for stage three breast cancer and next Friday she will have her last session of chemotherapy.

Her cancer was small – she had no symptoms, NONE – nothing to see and nothing to feel. The mammogram didn’t pick it up. The specialist couldn’t find it. Although it was small, it was hungry and it would have grown and spread very quickly.

The diagnosis – while unwelcome – was not entirely unexpected. My aunt, Mum’s twin sister, successfully kicked breast cancer’s bahookie a decade ago and my Gran, Mum’s mum, got the all clear after her treatment just before she was killed in a car accident (Fate is a wicked old cow sometimes!). The timing could have been better, we are all just getting back to normal after Dad’s illness last year. But then, when is it a good time to find out you have breast cancer?

I know the answer to that actually – and that’s the next chapter which I will blog about separately – the best time to find out is before you have it and that’s the position I find myself in now. It is highly possible that there are some genetic shenanigans going on here so I have to be tested to see if I have the gene mutation.

So back to the walk …

I am walking out of gratitude for the treatment that my Grandmother,my Aunt and my Mum received.
I am walking out of gratitude for the improvements made to treatment so that my Mum will be more comfortable during her chemotherapy than the women before her.
I am walking out of gratitude for the research done so that I may take positive steps to give myself the best chance to dodge this bullet.
I am walking in the hope that by the time my daughter is my age breast cancer will be a thing of the past.

I know that those of you who know my mum will find it completely unsurprising that she has come through all this with grace and apparent ease. I know there are days when she feels pretty beaten about by the treatment but she always has a smile and time for a cup of tea and a blether 🙂 Unfortunately she still has months of treatment ahead of her and that is just not fair as she has worked tirelessly this year as Dad continues his recovery. We’re hoping that after all this, the universe may give them a break!!

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Leesa and I have been training our socks off and when my alarm goes off at 6am for our weekend training walks I try to remember that any distance I walk is easier than the journey Mum is taking – no matter how easy she makes it look on the outside. And on the 1st and 2nd of March when we are completing the event I will remind myself that blisters and sore muscles are nothing compared to the surgery and the chemotherapy she has endured.

Now, of course, as with all sponsored events, I am gratefully receiving donations. Through Team SMC we have raised an impressive amount already with our patients generously handing over more than $3,000 between them. If you would like to donate then please go to http://www.endcancer.org.au and choose MELBOURNE then click on the green DONATE button at the top of the screen. Enter my name – Laura Park – and then make your donation with a credit or debit card from anywhere in the world 🙂 I will be most grateful for anything you can give.

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