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103 %
raised of £3,000 target
by 97 supporters
Kirstie Boxall (was Mclaren) avatar
Kirstie Boxall (was Mclaren)

I've swum the distance of the English Channel & back, 38 miles in 35 days

to say Thank you for being so well looked after x for Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity because it was my goal following Breast Cancer

103 %
raised of £3,000 target
by 97 supporters

The Blossom Appeal

Help us build a £2.5 million modern Breast Care Centre where state-of-the-art care can be delivered to all our patients and give them the best possible experience when they come to hospital.

Charity Registration No. 1048827


I'm wisely not going anywhere near the North Sea, especially at this time of year! The idea of being covered in Lard just didn't appeal !
I have just completed swimming the 19miles (35km) over 17 consecutive days at Ufford Park swimming pool which is where I have been swimming to overcome the 'fallout' from my long and intensive treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer. By doing this I hope to encourage other people in a similar position and to raise money for The Blossom Appeal in their bid to raise the needed £2.5 million to build the new Breast Care centre at Ipswich Hospital - my way of saying thank you x

Feeling like I have over the last 2 years I never thought that I would be in a position to be able to do this and although it is a struggle I have had this hair brained idea in my head since November last year as I wanted to give something back and I needed a goal.  Originally I was going to complete it over a month bearing in mind that I am still recovering but due to the possibility of a provisional operation date on 1/2/19 and in order to complete it in time, I had to squeeze it in to only 17 days and increase my daily distance to 138 lengths of the Ufford Park pool each day to (2,070 meters/1.29 miles).Definitely in need of a longer lie down after that ! .....but, it doesn't end there! Please read the 2 updates below. 

My Update - Friday 1/2/19 :- I was relieved to find out that my operation date wasn't yet confirmed so I was back in the pool as usual this morning and now that I have proved to myself that I can do it,  I thought it silly to stop there. Soooooooooo, whilst swimming along I had the crazy thought that as I had reached France in my mind, the only reasonable thing was to swim back to England ???? So I went straight on to my next challenge which is swimming the distance of the 19 miles back. A grand total of 38 miles in 35 continuous days! Hence I earned the nickname this morning of 'The Forest Gump of Swimming ' ☺️. 

And My more recent update - Thursday 7/2/19 :-My operation is definitely on the19th February so in order to have finished my additional 19 miles back to English shores I have had to up my daily distance once again. Today I swam 172 lengths/1.5 miles ! Boy oh Boy it's hard as I'm still suffering from the treatment but I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the donations and the words of support and am determined to raise as much as possible for such a worthy cause. I am also aware that after the op it will be a while before I can get back in the pool and even then it will take time to get back where I am today. 

The continuation of my original story:- I was back in the pool as soon as I was able, following the end of my treatment and I haven't looked back since then. I have been determined to get my movement back, overcome the fatigue and pain and push myself to become strong in mind and body and get back on the world. It has been hard but my determination/bloody mindedness have served me well and from initially just being able to tread water for a few minutes, I slowly began to be able to lift my arm and swim a few lengths which I steadily increased. It has been my main focus and between that and walking the Dog it hasn't left me much energy to do much else but I have learnt to be patient and kind to myself and I have a very understanding Husband ! The big challenge is overcoming the pain in my chest on a daily basis when I get out of breath as the Radiotherapy for the last part of my treatment effected my ribs and I seem to get out of puff quicker. This is why swimming has been so good for me as being in the water gives me such relief to my achy limbs and I can stretch out supported by the water and enjoy the feeling of freedom. It truly has allowed me to put the fire back in my belly and to face the future and enjoy even the simplest of things that normally one would take for granted. It's still uncomfortable but I have proved to myself that I can do it and I have found it especially helpful for my head and all of the nonsense that goes on in it. It's a great anxiety buster and I have my mantras that I repeat as I go up and down (apart from when I'm counting) and I practice Reiki, mindfulness and visualisation, so no matter how I feel when I go in to the water I always come out feeling stronger, happier, positive and more determined than ever! I also have a good chat when there and have met some lovely people, all of whom have been so friendly and encouraging. So you see it has helped in so many ways, each contributing to rebuilding my confidence to ' get back out there' which did seem an impossibility and rather daunting initially. My love of photography has also played a huge part in my healing and once again I'm snapping which gives me such joy. You can see my photos on Instagram by looking for snaphappyboxall. Four months ago I started Taoist Tai Chi which has also benefitted me with regaining movement and when Im there I am concentrating so hard on the moves that the 'jibber jabber' in my head goes away and there's peace ! I have also met another wonderful group of friends.

I have had such amazing support from so many and I will help each of them in some way but I must do a  special ‘shout out’ to the invaluable team at the John Le Vay Cancer Support centre at Ipswich Hospital. They have been instrumental in putting me back on my feet and giving me the support and tools to Roar again🐯! Together with the 'Blossom Charity' I was treated to 'A Make Over Day' at Dream On in Eye which was a huge turning point as by the end of that sumptuous day I began to once again recognise the face in the mirror. I have also benefitted from very beneficial support provided by the generous donations from Art for Cure who I am so grateful to.  

There have been so many wonderful people involved in my treatment and HUGE THANKS go to you all in all departments both at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals. I feel very privileged to have received the care and expertise that I have and continue to do so. The NHS is an amazing service and never did I think that my monthly donations to Cancer Research would be benefiting me directly. 

In saying that I would also like to help raise the profile of 'Triple Negative Breast Cancer'. By being able to be part of the clinical trial of the 'Partner Study' I hope that it helps in some way to find a cure for this uncommon type of Breast Cancer. I felt very lucky to be part of the trial and although it was a particularly gruelling treatment I met some wonderful people who are very special to me.....every cloud ....☺️

I would like to say thank you to my friends and family and sorry for worrying them so much. Special thanks to my husband David/Box who gently coaxed me back to the pool by suggesting that I join him every day for his swim. I wouldn't have managed it without you.

I would also like to remember my dear friends Catherine Goddard and Leslie Graham. 

And last but by no means least, thank you to you for taking the time to read this and if you are able to donate even the smallest amount to this worthy cause and my crazy challenge I would be very grateful as it all adds up😘

After my operation I hope to get back in the pool as soon as I am able as I have already entered the National Swimathon and hope to be able to take part in it ! It is being held between 29-31 March in aid of Cancer Research & Marie Curie.

My final words are..never doubt yourself, anything is possible !

The Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity raises money to improve facilities, fund new equipment, provide additional services, support staff development and initiate local medical research and innovative projects at The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.We always ensure that your kind gifts and donations benefit the area of the hospital or community service that you choose. Every donation is greatly appreciated and makes a real and positive difference to the experience of being in hospital.


  • A snapshot of the early months....
  • a snapshot of 'emerging from the pupae '... +6