From Thomas' family - Thomas passed away on 13th May 2009. We would like to thank people for their kind words, thoughts and donations. To Thomas we would like to send thanks for 24 wonderful years and for leaving a legacy by which to remember him with immense pride. The courage he has shown is in the telling.
In 2004 I was diagnosed with a bone cancer called Osteosarcoma (as a result of treatment for a childhood eye cancer called Retinoblastoma in 1985) and received Chemotherapy at The Christie Hospital in Manchester. I had to have a knee and tibia replacement and various lung operations due to the cancer spreading. This means that I have problems walking long distances due to muscle removal and metal parts in my left knee. The cancer returned in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In September 2008 I was told that the cancer was now terminal as a tumour in the left side of my head cannot be operated on and because I have had too much Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy in my life, there was nothing more that could be done. I am having 3 weeks of small dose Radiotherapy in October to try and slow the rate at which the tumour grows.
I owe a lot to the doctors and nurses on the Young Oncology Unit who have worked with me over the last 4 years, trying to get rid of this cancer and, as I have done in the past, I wanted to do a fund raising event to raise as much money as I could.
I know that I have less than a year to live and so I want to try and push myself as much as I can. I feel that this Coast2Coast Walk will give me something to focus on and something to live for. So I am doing this event for myself as much as the hospital, but if I can make money as I do it, then that would be brilliant.
I will be leaving St Bees Head on the West Coast of England on 27th November 2008 and hope to arrive at Robins Hoods Bay on the East Coast of England 15-20 days later (11th - 16th December. It will not be easy and I may take longer, but I will do it. If I am not around to do it, my Dad has promised to do it in my memory, so your money will still be much appreciated.)
I would be really thankful if you could donate some money to my cause; large or small amounts will be equally appreciated.
Thank you for reading,
TO EVERYONE WHO HAS DONATED - IT IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT PROVES THERE ARE STILL GOOD HUMAN BEINGS IN THE WORLD. THE FACT THAT YOU WOULD GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO HELP A STRANGER MAKES THIS CHALLENGE WORTHWHILE. I THOUGHT THAT THIS COUNTRY WAS LACKING IN TOGETHERNESS AND COMMUNITY SPIRIT. THE NEWS IS FULL OF DEPRESSING STORIES ABOUT OUR SOCIETY. HOWEVER, I HAVE BEEN PROVED WRONG BY EVERYONE WHO HAS SPONSORED ME, MOSTLY PEOPLE WHO DONT KNOW ME - ON DAY 7, A LADY WHO WAS SUFFERING FROM CANCER HERSELF, RECOGNISED ME AND PULLED OVER ON THE ROAD SIDE (IN THICK SNOW) TO DONATE £10 - AMAZING.
I will be starting the walk on Saturday 29th November 2008 (not 17th as originally planned!)
THE PLANNED WALK
DAY 1 29th November 11am ST BEES HEAD - MIREHOUSE 5.32 Miles
DAY 2 30th November 9am MIREHOUSE - ENNERDALE BRIDGE 10.2 Miles
DAY 3 1st December 9am ENNERDALE BRIDGE - HONISTER PASS 10.1 Miles
DAY 4 2nd December 9am HONISTER PASS - GRASSMERE 9.38 Miles
DAY 5 3rd December 9am GRASSMERE - PATTERDALE 7.25 Miles
DAY 6 4th December 9am PATTERDALE - BURNBANKS 10.8 Miles
DAY 7 5th December 9am BURNBANKS - ORTON 11.0 Miles
DAY 8 6th December 9am ORTON - KIRBY STEPHEN 12.9 Miles
DAY 9 7th December 9am KIRBY STEPHEN - WAIN WATH FORCE 10.7 Miles
DAY 10 8th December 9am WAIN WATH FORCE - REETH 11.5 Miles
DAY 11 9th December 9am REETH - RICHMOND 9.84 Miles
DAY 12 10th December 9am RICHMOND - GREAT LANGTON 10.8 Miles
DAY 13 11th December 9am GREAT LANGTON - INGLEBY CROSS 11.7 Miles
DAY 14 12th December 9am INGLEBY CROSS - CLAY BANK (B1257) 11.2 Miles
DAY 15 13th December 9am CLAY BANK - ROSDALE HEAD 9.92 Miles
DAY 16 14th December 9am ROSDALE HEAD - EGTON BRIDGE 9.92 Miles
DAY 17 15th December 9am EGTON BRIDGE - RIG FARM 11.3 Miles
DAY 18 16th December 9am RIG FARM - ROBIN HOOD’S BAY 5.36 Miles
We set off from home (Comberbach in Cheshire) at 7am and arrived at St Bees Head for 10am. There, we met friends and family, including Professor Tim Eden (Paediatric Oncologist at theChristieHospitalwho was my first Consultant) and after a few pictures and collecting some Irish Sea Water and a pebble, we all set off at 11am. It was only a short 5 mile walk and went very well. The weather was cold, but very sunny and calm. We finished the walk at 2pm and set off to our camp at Braithwaite, Nr Keswick. In bed for 10pm, ready for a challenging next day.
My Mum, Sister and I were up at 6:45am. We were walking by 9am and my mum was planning to pick us up by 3pm atEnnerdaleBridge. The weather was again very cold, but the sky was beaming with a winter sun. The enormity of the challenge I have taken on became apparent as the day went on. Having half a lung missing, a knee replacement, a tibia replacement and missing muscle made the high hills we had to scramble up seem that much more difficult. Knowing that people I have never met before have read my story in the newspaper or the internet and decided to sponsor me has really helped me to carry on. We arrived on time, with muscles burning and raced on home for a nice bath and warm food (Mum’s new slow cooker is amazing!) Bed by 9pm.
Another 6:45am wake up call and after a warm bowl of porridge we arrived atEnnerdaleBridgeand 8:45am. Heading towardsHonnisterPass, My sister and I trekked off and enjoyed a few hours of level walking around Ennerdale Water before having to climb over the steep Buttermere Fell. The wind really picked up at the top, but the sun still shone brightly. After a quick descent down the other side and a long and winding road walk, we met with Mum and shot off home for more hot food. When I first decided to do this challenge I knew I would find it hard, but I never realised just how much the cancer I have had, and still have, would affect me. Every morning I feel weak and worn out and I really struggle to walk up the hills, but I’ve realised that the human body is more durable than we think. It’s easy to give up, but it’s more rewarding to carry on.
We woke up to a bit of a dilemma today. Our cottage is on a very steep driveway, leading onto an equally steep access road, and this morning everything was covered in a thick layer of ice, making the car impossible to move. We waited until around 10.30am before braving the drive and eventually started the walk further down the road at Rosthwaite. We couldn’t even make up much time due to the icy path we had to start the walk on, along Stonethwaite Beck. We soon started to climb, following the water up the valley, and got some great pictures of a weather front moving across the valley behind us. The climb was steady going towards Lining Crag but soon a snow storm was surrounding us and we lost our way a bit, resulting in some rather scary climbing and thoughts of mountain rescue! The path was pretty much lost under the snow so every cairn we spotted was a new friend until we found some footprints to guide us down as well. Despite this, it still took us hours to get over Grasmere Common and down into the village; by this time it was dark and we’d been walking for over 6 hours without having chance to stop for food due to the blizzard. All in all, we learnt our lesson – a late start in winter is not an option!
Having yesterday’s adventures still fresh in our minds, we had already decided to call the walk on or off early in the morning, depending on the state of the driveway. But as the gritters had done our paths, and the weather was stunningly clear and fresh, we set off, on time! Today we were walking with Alex, Darren and Henry the dog (who apparently had started the day with a cooked breakfast!) We had a fantastic day climbing along Great Tongue, around Seat Sandal, with some great company from Alex and Darren, who perhaps hadn’t quite grasped what we would be doing that day (sorry guys!). The stunning views were only slightly spoilt by constantly having to look down for the next step on a treacherously icy path; we all took a tumble despite this care, even Henry went skidding at one point! We were down at our meeting point in Patterdale by 3pm and were met by Dad, who is now joining us for the next 9 days. Many thanks to Alex and Darren who made such an effort – it was great spending time with you. Hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday recovering and many thanks for your kind donation!
Today was by far the hardest day. It was the first day that my Dad joined me and after 5 solid days, my twin sister Jennifer had a well earned day off. We set off from Patterdale at 9am, heading over a few big hills towards Burn Banks. This would have been hard enough for me to do, but due to a lot of overnight snow we spent the whole day knees deep in the white stuff! This may seem like fun, (which it was for the first few minutes!) but it really was hard work. The weather was less than average with plenty of snow, rain and wind battering us from all angles meaning we didn’t finish until5pm. To be honest, there are no words that can describe how difficult I found today. This is such a great challenge though and knowing that people are supporting me, who don’t even know me, is incredible. I am told that what I am doing is inspirational, but it is the people raising incredible amounts for such a great cause that is inspirational – Spread the word!!
After getting the car stuck in ice, we eventually got started walking at 9am, still aching from yesterday. We crossed the M6 motorway and it was the first time since starting the walk that I really felt like I was getting somewhere – Bye-Bye Lake District, Hello Dales! It was a lot easier, but still very icy. Towards the end it was very snowy and reminded me a lot of Day 6 with the depth of the snow we had to try and walk through. Just as we were arriving at our finishing place, Orton, with the sleet slamming against our faces, a car pulled up and a woman, suffering from cancer herself, donated £10 to my cause after seeing me in the media. It’s people like her that makes this challenge worthwhile.
I had a great day today. Me and my sister were joined by friends fromCardiffand the weather was calm, sunny and bitterly cold. We walked from Orton, along some sweeping fields, to Kirkby Stephen. I am enjoying this challenge thoroughly and, whilst there are times where I feel my joints are going to stick together, I really doing want to give up or miss a day. Tonight I checked the total I have raised so far and it was over £21,000 – that is immense and I think more should be said about the kind and generous donators than me doing this walk – well done everyone and thank you. Also – Thank you to the Welsh guys for joining me today and to my twin sister Jennifer who has to go back to work tomorrow – She has been an amazing help and I’ll miss her this next week!
Today was the first day I walked on my own. I left Kirkby Stephen and headed over the hills to Keld inNorth Yorkshire. The weather was another icy and foggy day, but no rain. It was a great day for me to think lots and to take stock about why I am doing this whole challenge. I realised I am doing it for a number of reasons. I obviously want to stay as fit as possible and this is a great way to do this. There are more important reasons though. I want people to know about the great work that the doctors and nurses on the Young Oncology Unit in Manchester do. Awareness in cancer in teenagers and young adults is another reason why I am doing this walk. A lot of people are just simply unaware that young people can suffer from cancer. This leads to late diagnosis and can therefore reduce survival rates. So, I have decided that this Coast2Coast walk will not be my last fundraiser. I need to maintain my fitness levels in order to stay alive for as long at possible. I also want to raise as much money as I can for my ward and for the Teenage Cancer Trust, who have provided me with the care and support I have needed to help me have a life with cancer.
Today was a lot warmer than previous days – a whole 6 Degrees! It rained all day, but I was glad to see the snow disappearing as it will make walking much easier over the next couple of days. I enjoyed walking today as it was relatively flat and I could put my legs into auto pilot. I am really starting to feel the strain in my legs and walking is becoming really uncomfortable. I have really hurt my Achilles Heal and for the past 3 days it has been getting gradually worse. I am not a natural hill walker though, so I suppose all of these aches and pains are expected! The Yorkshire Dales are so undulating, beautiful and quiet. The day has been spent walking in and out of tiny little villages, each with their own quaint little features. I am enjoying this walk so much. I always moaned as a child about walking, but out here with my Dad today was brilliant. Tomorrow we are heading for Richmond with a forecast of blue skies – we’ll see!
My feet have started to give up now and after about 5 miles I really started struggling. Everyone is saying it is OK for me to take a day or two off and recover, but unless I break my leg I am not giving up. Maybe if I hadn't had the support I have had, I may well have missed a day, but I want to show everyone what the support really means to me and I'm sure I'll finish it without any missed days. The scenery today was great and coupled with some lovely weather I almost forgot about my aching Achillies tendon, which is well and truly twanged! My Dad and I headed over the hills and down into Richmond, passing through some really nice villages including Marrick and Marske. By the end of the walk we could see into the distance and what the next few days had in store - looks pretty flat!
The morning start with an interview from Tyne Tees local news and the news reporter handed me a cheque for £50 - a great start to the day! It was virtually flat throughout today and I was really enjoy it until we hit the 5 mile mark and my feet pretty much gave up. I spent the remaining 6 miles in a great deal of discomfort, as did my Dad who had to listen to me moan on for 3 hours. I love being in North Yorkshire. I spent 7 years growing up around here and its where I will always call 'home'. I saw a sign for 'Northallerton', where I used to live and it made me smile when I thought back to all the great memories I have. Tomorrow I will be walking with a friend, who was my best friend through school, so I am sure there will be lots of stories we'll be able to chat and laugh about - hopefully keeping my mind off the pain!
After some pictures for another national newspaper I set off on the flattest day of the route with Andrew Darbyshire, a great friend from school. We had such a good day catching up and had some absolutely hilarious memories to talk about. We walked past all the areas I grew up around and it was like being 'home' again. There were so many places I remembered from my teenage years and it gave me a really warm feeling. It's so nice to have a place in the world that you can call home, but until I returned to North Yorkshire I never fully realised just how much I consider this area to be my home. The day was spent walking up track roads to farms and then across farmers fields on the footpaths. If it was Day 1, it would have been a stroll in the park, but because it's Day 13, the accumulative aches and pains just make walking so uncomfortable. I am not letting this get me down though and trying to appreciate every moment. I am here, alive, walking around Britian and it's a great feeling to know that, today, I am healthy.
Today did not go the way I was hoping and I am now in utter agony. The first 6 miles went really well and Geof Sheppard, Dad and myself strolled at quite an enjoyable pace. This was helped by a lovely warm cuddle I received from an attractive lady that had recognised me from the local news - she really made my day, though I think Dad was a bit upset at getting left out - I'll hug him later! Then, the weather really turned. The wind really picked up. As we climbed into the North York Moors the ice, wind, the fact we were in the middle of a cloud and the snow made the conditions less than enjoyable. I then fell and really twisted my already weak ankle - annoying, to say the least. The rest of the hills we climbed were full of ice and I was in so much pain - like nothing I've been through during this challenge. I am hoping that my ankle recovers for tomorrow. I am so close to the end - 4 days to go - I just dont want to give up. I now know what the X-factor contestants must feel like (they do go through so much dont they...) - I just have to get to the final day!
i decided to give today a go, despite having a really painful ankle from yesterday, but its near the end - no pian, no gain! So, equipped with 2 ankle straps and a knee support, Jennifer (twin) and I started walking on what would prove to be the worse day yet! It would have been a pretty nice walk up a hill to 1300ft and along a disused railway, but thanks to 40mph driving winds, hail and snow, it was really hard going. I can handle the rain, snow, sleet and hail, but it was the wind that made it so much harder - I cant stand driving wind! We couldn't see anything because we were right in the middle of a cloud, so it was a great feeling to get to the end of the walk! Today, we also moved to our last cottage, which is in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors. There is no internet connection and no mobile phone reception. So, I have to drive to the nearest village and sit in a freezing car to get in touch with people. I am currently writing this blog at a friends house, so it's not so bad! Tomorrow is going to be another struggle, due to the weather, but my ankle is holding out and there are only 3 days to go - I can almost smell the sea!
I am so worn out and feeling so ill - i'll have to write a blog tomorrow - I just need bed - thanks for your continued support - it's the only thing keeping me going at the momennt! Hopefully I'll feel a bit better tomorrow - nearly there!
What really happened!! - There was a large crowd today all aiming to help me on my way. They included two uncles, an aunty and a cousin - along with two dogs. Also, what made my day was Lorraine, Dave and Anna - staff from The Christie Hospital, driving all the way from Manchester on their weekend to join me. It is these people who have made the last 4 years of my life more bearable and it was so nice to be able to walk with them in the outdoors, rather than being looked after them in hospital. Due to the terrible weather yesterday, I decided to re-route and go around a hill instead of over it - this way it would save my ankle, which is well and truly fed up and moans to me in the form of sharp jabs of pain on a regular basis! This meant walking an extra 3 miles, but we finished about 1hr ahead of schedule because of the better terrain. We saw some great views and the weather was kind to us, with no wind or rain. Thank to the great staff at the hospital, I had such a great day and will never forget their selfless kindness, with an almost need to help others. It was also really nice to walk with my family around North Yorkshire, where I feel completely at home. Finally, thanks so much to Peter and Trish for walking with me today - great friends, lenders of cottage 3 and supplier of internet! Bring on the last full days walk tomorrow!!
This was the last big walk today so I felt like an extra challenge - I brought me 10 year old cousin on the 15 miles stretch! To be fair, he did very well, for the 1st mile! No, no, he was brilliant - well done Paul! We walked up and down a few hills and saw the sea for the first time -nearly there! I felt so good today knowing that I was so close to the end and, despite the pain, I haven't missed a day. All that wind, rain, sleet and snow hasn't stopped me and I was rewarded with a sunny day throughout. We walked about 15miles today to make sure that the last day was a gentle stroll and could be fully enjoyed. We walked through places like Littlebeck and finished at High Hawsker - but the pub had just shut! I'm looking forward to tomorrow, but a little part of me will mill all of this - just a little part though! Finally - Thank you so much to another roadside donation today - The people of Britian are amazing - forget what the media say! She even offered me a cup of tea - I was so so tempted!!
I cant believe its all come down to this - the last day. Because we weren't starting walking until later in the day I was due a nice lie in, but due to two phone interviews for the radio, I was up at the usual 6:45am. My ankle was so painful to walk on and I was thinking of writing a dramatic piece about how I didnt think I was going to make it, but have decided to leave all the drama for the X-Factor - Alexandra Burke - this years winner/whiner of X Factor has been through so much more than I will ever go through - 3 years ago Louis Walsh thought she wasnt good enough for the finals and yet she has come back and won -with only 37 moments of blubbering lamentation - she is a stronger person than I will ever be.
After the porridge we all got ready to meet people at High Hawsker, which is a village about 3-4 miles from Robin Hoods Bay. We got to the pub in the village and were greeted by a swarm of news reporters - all jostling for position! I spent the day having my picture taken and being interviewed - it really isn't fun, but the media have proved to be a great source for getting donation, so it had to be done. The people that have watched the news and been moved enough to donate are the really heroes. They are the people making the difference to the hospital and the ill people who need support.
I walked around the cliff and down into Robin Hoods Bay ewith my Sister, Dad, Uncle, Cousin and friends. I met my Mum at the beach who handed me the jar of Irish Sea water I had collected 18days ago and I threw it into the North Sea - The end, wow. It was a great day and I have to say a massive thank you to my Mum. Without her, this just wouldn't have been possible. She has driven me to and from the start points everyday, made me amazing food and generally kept me going.
Finally, thank you to you - the donator. It is because of you that I have completed this. Had it not been for the incredible support, I would have had a rest day (at least one !) and the sense of acheivement I feel now would not have been so high. I am trying to think of something to finish on and all I can think of is a quote someone left me when donating, so I'll finish on this.
PAIN IS TEMPORARY. IT MAY LAST A MINUTE, OR AN HOUR, OR A DAY, OR A YEAR, BUT EVENTUALLY IT WILL SUBSIDE AND SOMETHING ELSE WILL TAKE ITS PLACE. IF I QUIT, HOWEVER, IT LASTS FOREVER.