In March next year, I'll will be doing a brutal (and very cold) three day trek, hiking 70km into the Finnish Arctic Circle, whilst pulling my kit in a ‘pulk’ and camping in a tent, to raise money for Maggie’s Cancer Centre.
This will be the third fundraising effort I've done for Maggie’s. It's very close to my heart, as I know many people who have been given a lifeline with the comfort and support offered by the centre and its specialist staff.
I wanted to make this year’s effort the most challenging yet and I think I might have smashed that with this! We’ve been told to expect really difficult conditions on the trip: temperatures of between -20c and -35c at night; health risks such as frostbite, hypothermia and trench foot; walking 70km in just three days in snowshoes; and crossing a frozen river, a frozen lake and hiking through a forest. All of these whilst pulling all the kit and food I’ll need.
But Maggie’s is such a worthy cause. It’s the most wonderful place for those affected directly by cancer, and their families and friends. There, you can have a brew, a biscuit and a chat, join a workshop, get some specialist advice about the issues you’re facing, or just relax in the peaceful surroundings of the beautiful gardens. There are no expectations on you at Maggie’s, just an invitation to spend time there in whatever way will best help you and your loved ones.
Maggie’s centres weren’t around when my amazing grandad was dying of lung cancer. If we’d had somewhere like this for us to go as a family, where we could get specialist support and advice, I’m sure we would have coped much better with his treatment and eventual death.
A few weeks ago, local BBC reporter Jonathan Ali - someone I have worked with many times in my career - passed away after a long battle with cancer. He had this to say about Maggie’s: “In hospitals you can feel institutionalised. You're in a medical situation and this place takes that medical situation away. You feel 'normal' if that's the right word, comfortable, at ease. We can sit in the garden here, talk to other people about what is happening with us and because they are in the same boat they get it. Maggie’s is a beautiful place."”
My aim (apart from raising £6.5K for Maggie's) is to get through the trip in one piece, without sustaining any serious injuries or being eaten by a polar bear!
I'll be running a number of fundraising events between now and March, as well as taking direct donations towards my fundraising target.
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