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You have been by my side all the way

October 2011, the 3 Land Challenge details come out, so Kirsty and myself read through it and think, yeah! “we need a bit more of a challenge, and wow, Iceland, what a fantastic place that would be to go and see.”

I remember Kirsty saying to me in October 2009, “I’ve just registered my interest in the London moonwalk 2010, fancy doing it with me?”

So she tells me all about it and I think yes great, get fit and what a fab cause and what a challenge. We complete London Moonwalk 2010, cross the finish line and say never again, but by the time October 2010 comes, we have registered our interest in the London Moonwalk 2011!

[Guys note: one of our 3 Landers journeys…tissue at the ready please]

London Moonwalk 2011, we cross the line and say “never ever again”!!

October 2011, the 3 Land Challenge details come out, so Kirsty and myself read through it and think, yeah!  “we need a bit more of a challenge, and wow, Iceland, what a fantastic place that would be to go and see.”

So we register our interest and before we know it, we have signed up and have our places booked. During this time my sister in law Lisa, is suffering with a bad back, she has lots of treatment on it and nothing seems to work until one of her friends, tells her a story about a friend who had a bad back and it turned out that she had breast cancer.. Lisa checks herself and finds a lump, she goes to the doctors and within weeks she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and cancer of the spine, however it is treatable with a couple of doses of radiotherapy to her spine to shrink the tumour and drugs to reduce the size of her lump in her breast.  Lisa responded well to her treatment and within a few months the lump had shrunk, and so had the cancer in her spine.  She then had a masectomy and a reconstruction to make sure that cancer had gone from her breast.  She has to take drugs for the rest of her life but the cancer is under control.

Reality slightly hits

The beginning of 2012, we receive our training packs for the 3LC, reality slightly hits,

“Oh My God what have we signed up for, 3 overnight moonwalks of 26.2 miles within 5 weeks of each other in 3 different countries!!!!”

So we start our training and soon realise that we have become very unfit and a 3 mile walk hurts in places.  But it doesn’t take long to get back into the old routine of walking and enjoying being back out in the air, instead of being in doors. It’s weird because it does actually clear your head and you feel like you can breathe again.

London gets closer and closer and all the feelings come back, it’s really long way, can I walk  it?, I’m going to be so tired but then I know I can do it because I’ve done it twice before, so surely it will be alright.  We do our traditional London Moonwalk routine, book into the Spa, spend the day being really really lazy, go and have  nice dinner,  head along to Hyde Park and then the buzz hits you, you walk around London and you just see people wearing their moonwalk T-shirts, get on the tube and it’s a mass of pink.

This year we have been asked to go up on stage, I really don’t feel important enough to go on stage, what I’m doing is a challenge but I didn’t sign up for the 3LC for the glory.  For the London walk we are very very lucky, the weather is kind to us and it stays nice and dry, however we get to about mile 15 and the thoughts are going through my head, why have I done this again, really don’t think I can make it around London let alone Scotland or even Iceland but you pull yourself  together and remember why you are doing this and the thought of going back home and telling people that I couldn’t do it because my legs and feet hurt was not a sentence that would be coming out of my mouth.  So we finish London and what feeling to cross that finish line again and collect my medal.

Just before London, Lisa, started feeling poorly again with her back, the doctor sends her straight to hospital, they tell her she has fractured some vertebras in the bottom of her back due to the cancer which has made her bones weak.  She has her appointment on 3rd May 2012; the doctors tell her that her treatment has stopped working as her body has become immune to it.  They changed her medication that day and booked in some more tests.  They decided to treat Lisa with more radiotherapy as her cancer has spread to her hips, ribs and shoulders, which was causing the pain but they want to make sure that it hasn’t spread to her internal organs.

16th May comes and Lisa goes for her test results and she has the all clear, it’s not spread.  The cancer is not in her breasts, it’s not in her internal organs but it is in her spine, ribs and shoulders but with the radiotherapy and different drugs, it will be under control, she will have it for the rest of her life but it’s under control and manageable.

What fantastic news.

So Edinbra is only a week away, we have our flights booked, bags packed, and bra decorated, so we decide that we really need to get our kit ready for Iceland.  On Tuesday 5thJune, Kirsty and I head off to the hiking shops to get our boots, we get to the shop doors and my brother phones me, he tells me the worst devasting news ever

Lisa has died in her sleep last night.

From that moment on, everything has changed, and I have 4 days to get my head round this and go and walk a marathon for breast cancer that has just taken our Lisa away.  From that moment, the 3 Land Challenge just got personal….

Edinbra came and went in a blur, it was very wet and windy, I had Lisa’s beautiful face in my mind all the way round, and just kept walking.  It was when I got to mile 26 and the people are there cheering and clapping that I burst into tears, ugly cry with snot!!  Don’t think I’ll be getting that finishers picture!!!!

So Iceland, we are packed and ready to go, and then we unpack and then pack again, really unsure what we need even though we have been given all the information… We set off about 7.30 Thursday morning to get to Heathrow, real bag of mixed emotions as both being Mummys and wives, it feels very wrong to up and leave everyone else to it.  My husband said to me as I walk out the door, “So tell me again, how do I work the washing machine?”

We land in Iceland and go straight to the Blue Lagoon, this is an amazing experience.  Yes it does smell but really once you get in the water, its lovely so warm.  We do the mud face pack, be careful not to get it in your mouth, it’s a bit salty.  A man’s choir, who are in the baths as well then start to sing, which was beautiful and everyone in the bath just stopped and listened to them, just seemed the perfect thing to do.

After another flight and coach trip we arrive at the hotels, dump our bags in our room and off to meet everyone and have some dinner.  We were worried about the food but it was really lovely.  We meet Nina and she told us all about what was happening tomorrow and what we need to bring and wear as we are whale watching and hiking up a volcano, not long after this we leave to go to bed, it’s been a long day but we’ve laughed all the way.

Whale watching.

We are dressed up in these bright orange fisherman coats that come down to our ankles and our bright pink Moonwalk beanies.  Not really sure if we are going to see any whales when the captain says “3 o’clock hump back whale” everyone runs to look at 3 o’clock and we see the tail of the whale going back down, so we wait, it’s really quiet and the water is still, you could hear a pin drop, when suddenly you hear the water being spurted out of the whales blow hole, you turn around the whale is just there, right there!! You can see all of him, just lying on the top of the water, as if it’s the most normal thing to do.  We saw a Puffin; bless him, really trying to take off but failing miserably.  Dolphins playing jumping in and out of the water.  Minky whales and birds.  It hard to put in words to describe this boat trip but it’s a once in a life time experience especially as the whales came out to play.

Volcano hike, really??

We are walking a moonwalk tomorrow night is this really a good idea?  Yes Yes Yes, it’s a steep hike to the top, but wow, again, once in a lifetime experience.  We then get told we are hiking back down the other side, through the Kingdom of Elves and Trolls, it’s only a 15 minute hike.  Obviously an Icelandic 15 minutes isn’t the same as English 15 minuets!! But so pleased we walked back this way, the scenery is stunning, just the way the lava has formed no wonder they say this is the Kingdom of Elves and Trolls.

Back to the hotel, for dinner and a briefing about tomorrow, what we need and everything, off to see the waterfalls and then back to hotel to get rest before the main event.

While we are travelling we have guide, who is telling us all about Iceland, the magic pure Icelandic horses, the elves, fairies and trolls.  You really do believe that Iceland is a magical place.

So it’s time, we get changed into our Bras and walking clothes, and then the tears start to flow again, it’s all so overwhelming and my brother has texted to wish us well and to tell me that Lisa is with me.

We go to our pasta party and briefing on the walk, and I have to say that I cry all the way through it, (subtlety I hope) I haven’t told anyone what has happened and why this is so emotional and personal for me.  Guy takes our pre walk photo, and obviously can tell that I’m a bit upset, he tells me to relax and enjoy it.  I tell him about Lisa and he gave me the biggest hug ever.

Right off to the nature baths, the warm up and the start line.  Oh I wish I was one of the people who was sitting in the car watching 80+ women dressed in their Bras at 11.30pm in the car park doing the hokey cokey in the middle of Iceland, seems to be most normal thing to do!!

Midnight comes, takes Kirsty and myself 6 miles to work out what we want to wear as one minute we are too hot then too cold.  We get sorted and then find our pace and we are off.  How beautiful is Iceland, it’s so peaceful and stunning, we are walking around the lake and the sky is bright and everything is so natural, random sheep just walking along with us, magic Iceland ponies happily watching us mad women walking by.  The craters that are all around us, the snow topped volcanos; it’s so hard to put it into words, what you see.

The buses with the Moonwalk staff come past us about every half hour, checking that we are ok and giving us a boost of encouragement.  We get half way and we are offered hot soup, sweets, bananas.  We opt for bananas and it’s the best banana ever!!! So we have another one.  A staff member called Sharon has been with Kirsty and me since we got to Iceland, on all our trips and she was on our bus for the night, I remember her saying that she would meet us at the finisher’s line.

The sky was bright blue all night long; the sun went down to the horizon but was there for about a second and came back up again. It was cold but nothing like I thought it would be, but the plastic poncho is a must.

We turn a corner and we see the camp site that we past at the beginning so we know we are nearly there.  Everything is starting to hurt now, my feet feel bruised, my hips are so stiff and I really don’t think I can go on.  My best friend who has been through this with me, who has cried with me, has tried to take some of the pain away for me but most of all has laughed endlessly with me, scoops my arm and we finish the last mile together arm in arm singing away to Olly Murs.

Sharon was at the finisher’s line; she gave me my medal, gave me a hug and told me that she was so proud of me.  It was like having a Mummy hug..

It was like therapy, I went through such emotions on that walk, how can life be so cruel, it’s not fair, she was so young and had so much to live for, she leaves behind my brother and their children, how do I help to take their pain away? Sadness, anger and happiness.

On the way home, we take a trip to the “pearl” There is a wishing well there, I throw my coin in and make a wish:-

I know that this won’t bring Lisa back but with the money we raise and continue to raise, it might just stop someone else losing a fiancée, Soul mate, Mummy, Daughter, Sister and a friend.

Lisa you said you wanted to do the Moonwalks with me…

You have been by my side all the way


Find out more about The MoonWalk Iceland and 3 Land Challenge


From Guy:

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