Cornwall has always been the place that amazed me so much as a child and even now. Living in a city not far from London, I’m not used to sea views, beautiful fresh air and people making more time to speak to you when walking along the street. That’s why it’s one of my favourite places in the world. Travelling down to Cornwall was always an exciting time for us as kids, especially knowing that we would see my Auntie Sue, and Cousins Sam and Jamie.
Sue was my mum’s sister, and moved to Cornwall to start a family. As kids we went down perhaps once every year, and visited, spending time on the beaches and generally spending so much time outdoors. It is a time that brings back lots of fond memories!
Unfortunately Sue was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012 and had to undergo lots of treatment to try and fight it. Although at first the radio therapy helped, eventually the cancer spread to other areas of Sue’s body. This was such a tough time for her, as she kept on fighting and fighting and never gave up. Sometimes you could see just how much she was struggling, and she would still worry about everyone else and make sure they were comfortable, before considering herself. This was just the kind of person that Sue was.
During the times when she could not control the pain, she was fortunately able to use the services of Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell. She stayed numerous times over the two years, and each time she could be in there either for a few days or a couple of weeks, and the staff and volunteers all helped her regain strength, get her pain under control and get her comfortable enough to go home.
Not long after Sue’s diagnosis we were told that she had been admitted into the hospice. Being 300 miles away and not knowing much about hospices, this frightened the life out of me and my family. With no previous experiences of a hospice, I instantly thought that Sue had gone into the hospice because she was going to die. . My imagination ran wild thinking about what to expect when I first walked in, and nothing could have prepared me for what I first experienced. Sue was comfortable, enjoying watching all the birds in the beautiful garden, visiting the little shop and buying little bracelets and necklaces, and generally seemed really well, all things considered. It was such a big relief to see her this way, and when she was admitted different times over the next 2 years I knew she was in the best place possible to care for her!
Because of all the fantastic care Sue had received, I decided that I wanted to do something to raise money for such a fantastic charity. I n May 2013 I decided to sign up for the Trek China challenge, trekking across the Great Wall of China all in aid of CHC. It was something that was well out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t even think I would be able to complete, but having Sue as a motivation I did it.
Whilst my fundraising had begun, unfortunately Sue’s fight was coming to an end. She became very ill, and spent her last week in the comfort of Mount Edgcumbe hospice, surrounded by her family and friends. She stayed positive and fought until the very end. In what was a very tragic and grief stricken time for all my family, one thing helped me through the grief. I continued to fundraise, and train and kept in my mind exactly what I was doing it for, which spurred me on constantly, that I wanted people to continue getting the fantastic care that Sue had received.
Eventually I hit my fundraising target, and before I knew it I was on a plane to Beijing! The challenge was probably one of the greatest experience of my life. I met some absolutely inspirational people, and pushed myself to limits that I never thought possible. Although very challenging it was also so rewarding, especially hearing other peoples reasons behind doing the challenge and thinking about how much money we had raised together as a group!
Sue’s death is something that will stay with me every day of my life, and I will never not miss her, however being able to take part in this challenge gave me a very positive experience out of a negative situation.
I can never ever repay back the hospice for how they treated and cared for Sue, and I will always feel indebted to the nurses, doctors and volunteers that kept smiling and being some of the most kind and compassionate people I have ever met. But I certainly feel like the challenge gave me a good way of showing my gratitude.
If you are thinking about doing a challenge but aren’t sure, I just hope that my story can push you in the right direction to making the decision, because it was the best thing I have ever done, for such a worthy cause!