At the age of 32, Anne Aurousseau, a vivacious, loving mother of three beautiful children developed a mysterious hacking cough. She had always been healthy and didn’t think too much of it at first. It was only when she started to lose weight and become desperately tired that she sought medical advice.
After many different meetings and consultations she was eventually (and incorrectly) detected as having thyroid cancer. Anne was nothing if not a battler. She decided on a second opinion which involved a thyroidectomy (the complete removal of her thyroid).
Unfortunately her cough remained and she continued to be very weak. She was eventually diagnosed with having an exceptionally unique and incurable form of cancer, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC), originating in her trachea. ACC is an unusually race cancer, with a very high likelihood of reoccurrence. There is currently no cure.
Less than 25 people per year in the UK develop this cancer. There is also presently no funding for research undertaken in Britain by the large Cancer Charities to remedy the situation, or even a new drug therapy to manage the disease.
Anne’s cheerful nature was put to the test in other ways too. In Oct 2011. After a gruelling 6 week course of radiotherapy the ex-receptionist lay unconscious in intensive care, with Doctors admitting she was hours from dying. The mother of three fought heroically and her weak body rallied to the amazement of the medical staff.
Despite coping with the magnitude of the concept that she currently has 13 new growths in her chest and all the dreadful uncertainty that fact entails, Anne has met the notion with remarkable bravery, determination and as much positivity as humanely possible. As her best friend and sister Claire said, “We all love her so much. I just want her to be better”.
Anne says, “thank you all so much for donating. Your help really is very much appreciated by Get-A-Head and me. Together we can hopefully fund new work into understanding this disease so ACC doesn’t necessarily mean a life sentence.”
In light of this a 100 mile walk along the South Downs is being undertaken at the end of May by old schoolfriends of the partner of Anne’s sister Claire.
It would be fair to state that the lads doing it aren’t in the first flush of youth. In fact to describe them as youthful at all would be as truthful as to say Keith Richards has aged well, or walking the South Downs is like undertaking a short stroll.
The South Downs Way is a long distance footpath and bridleway that has been around for 8000 years. We are looking to complete it in slightly less time than that. The trail stretches for 100 miles from Winchester in Hampshire, to Eastbourne in East Sussex with about 4,150 m (13,620 ft) of ascent and descent. It would also be fair to say that despite undertaking various training walks the challenge is an immense one. Yet if fortitude and determination were the only criteria for successfully completing the walk (as opposed to owning knees and backs that don’t creak) the lads would be well set.
So please meet the South Downs Walkers...
Daniel Jimenez, 41. Married to the lovely Gina. Proud father of two wonderful girls and a retired greyhound called Dougie Walters (named after his favourite Australian cricketer) What Dan doesn’t know about cricket isn’t worth knowing. Works in the wine trade, loves Johnny Cash, collecting Wisdens and old-fashioned pubs. Once wore a pair of cowboy boots on a night out, and has recently been spotted on wandering round Twickenham wearing a plastic inflatable jockey's outfit. (Don’t ask). Old Actonians stalwart until his knees went - and as a working pair of knees is an essential part of walking the South Downs way it is fair to state that big Danny J loves a challenge. First to the bar and last to leave, he is eagerly anticipating a big drink after we complete the walk. As is Brian…
Brian Peverall, 40. Goes by the nickname of Bigus (again, best not to ask). He is infamous for his appalling dress sense. Once turned up for a night out in a heatwave wearing a cut off pair of jeans. Unfortunately he cut them off himself and was slightly out in his measurements. Undeterred big Brian wore them anyway. It can be said without fear of contradiction that we had never seen a man in denim hotpants on the Piccadilly Line before. He also turned up on an over-ambitious 50km training walk wearing a poncho that he'd got from Thorpe Park.
Also has ridiculously poor taste in alcohol, once opting for a glass of rose in a pub which, strangely no-one has ever allowed him to forget. Normally drinks blue fizzy mixtures aimed at the teen market, which unfortunately Brian is not a member of, and hasn’t been for a very long time. Chelsea fan. Which probably explains a lot.
Chris “Bosley” Keane, 41. Big shot in the City. A man so immaculately dressed a Russian friend of mine upon meeting him asked if he was a Member of Parliament. Father of two beautiful girls. Loves cycling ridiculous distances in lycra, and Brentford FC. (After last weekend’s vital penalty miss please don’t remind him of the latter fact – it’s far more embarrassing than the lycra stat).
A real ale enthusiast who got so drunk on his stag do in Windsor he wanted to get a cab to South Africa, where his bride to be originally hailed from. He unfortunately had to undergo a hip operation after a particularly gruelling practice walk, and is now unable to walk the South Downs with us – but showing what a team man he is, has now volunteered to act as our logistics bod. Otherwise known as a gofer. Good work Boz.
Roger Davis: The Navigator, he’s bought the maps and the books and is plotting the walk. Has an innate ability to get everyone from A to B regardless of the day / night and is fitter than a butcher’s dog which is odd as his entire diet seems to be based around: black coffee, Guinness, real ale and the odd cheeky fag.
Married to the fantastic Sarah who went as far as helping to book all the accommodation on Dan’s i-phone when he couldn’t work out how to do it. IT wizard and lifelong West Ham fan, he even has a screensaver of Bobby Moore on his phone, which is odd as Roger’s displays as a “no holds barred” centre half for the mighty Old Actonians were far more: Alvin Martin / Billy Bonds / James Collins than they ever were the great Bobby Moore. Roger walks really fast and says “Happy Days!!” years before I ever heard anyone else say it.
Paul Evans. Our resident man of Wales, Paul (or “Shaggy” or “Prof” to his mates) is quite literally a Man of Harlech but now finds himself living with his lovely wife Helen in the heart of Manchester where he delights in going to see as many obscure bands that you’ve never heard of, or that you might have heard of 20 years ago. If you want to wind him up just tell him how great Oasis are. A thunderous guitarist Paul has a CD collection that is astonishing and is the only bloke we know that brought in a tradesman to build a library (in his home) to store his quite staggering book collection. Climbed Sugar Loaf mountain on his stag do, so a seasoned campaigner. Great in the bar, discovered real ale years before the majority and has been stubbornly refusing to bring lager to BBQs for years. Cardiff City fan on the quiet, works in local government, reads The Guardian. Speaks 4 languages – should come in handy if we get lost.
Layth Yousif. Partner of Anne’s sister Claire. Father of three wonderful children who now finds himself living in Hitchin. Layth is making a real stab of fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a journalist so the rest of us are waiting with baited breath to see if he pens one of his pieces on our 4 night leisurely stroll (every good web site suggests we should do it in 6). Lifelong Arsenal fan is also a left arm medium bowler even if at his age he has seen better days. Layth boasts the biggest biceps imaginable so carrying a pack on his back for 4 days should be no problem for him. Has developed a worrying habit of drinking Irish cider, poured over ice, regardless of the weather these last few years which he blames on being “lagered out”. Has a God-given ability to tell a great story which is a useful skill as his journalistic career begins to take off. Known as “Nathan” on account of a group of girls from Coventry, back in Ibiza in 1990, saying just how much he looked like Nathan from the boy band Brother Beyond…but as fellow walker and West Ham fan Roger would attest the only Nathan Layth resembles now is Nathan’s Pie and Mash Shop Upton Park from the back of beyond….
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