I was never one to fundraise and asking other people to sponsor me made me feel very uncomfortable. The email from the Cancer Council somehow made its way through the non work related inundation of media as I scanned the event details. Walking, non-competitive, fun. I read further and noticed it was a half marathon. I’d never walked that far before. Could I do it? Probably. Should I do it? Definitely. It would give me a goal to train for and something I could also do with my son. We both loved hiking through the bush and walked the many beautiful trails on the Mornington Peninsula. So without a second thought I signed up and extended the invitation to my close friendship circle.
Two of my girlfriends quickly replied and it was no surprise as they were the two that were my closest and most devoted through my husband’s battle. A few others were non-committal which was fine, it was not for everyone. I promptly downloaded a half marathon training program and blocked out my training days on the calendar.
With my two year old on my back we set out 5 days a week training together in effort to build up my strength and endurance. Mentally I knew I could walk 21km but I wanted to do it comfortably and enjoy it. The event was scheduled to start at 8pm and run through the night traversing Melbourne’s many city bridges and precincts along the Yarra River. It was summer and a Saturday night and our city was alive!
We enjoyed our daily training walks and I was feeling great. After a few weeks I decided it was time to share my progress through social media. During my husband’s illness I had decided not to announce it to my business colleagues and wider social circle. I needed the business to continue as ‘normally’ as possible and didn’t have the energy to involve more people, their opinions and requests to help. It was strenuous enough managing the people who were involved. Even my neighbours were unaware of the goings on in our home. All energies were focussed on his health and my newborn son.
Joining the walking event had a number of benefits. The fundraising of course for much needed cancer research but also a way to share my news through doing something positive. On those long walks I often asked myself why I was doing the training. To motivate myself through the often challenging hills I sang aloud as I often struggled carrying Jack on my back. I always came back to sharing my story. It was time.
The media team at the Cancer Council contacted me as they had read my story on the fundraising page and invited me to be interviewed for the Herald Sun, our statewide newspaper. Be careful what you wish for they often say, my story was certainly about to find a voice. The interview and photoshoot went very well, the journalist compassionately asking formidable questions. Jack was happy with his new teddybear and gifts as we enjoyed a lovely morning tea and discussed the event. All was going according to plan.
Two weeks from the event life had another test for me which I couldn’t have predicted. Playing soccer with my son I twisted my knee and pop! My knee weakened as I fell to the ground and watched my son running after his soccer ball towards the road. Calling out to my sister in law to catch him she just stood there motionless looking puzzled as I hobbled over in excruciating pain to stop him. It’s amazing how the body can still be mobilized when your child is at risk. Bundling him into the car I cursed my knee as we set off home. The adrenalin must have been high as the pain had subsided but driving was arduous as I couldn’t bend it, something was seriously wrong. I prayed it was temporary as I quickly swallowed painkillers and called my myotherapist. It wasn’t looking good. “Sounds like your ACL, do you have crutches?” Crutches! No of course I don’t. I considered going to the hospital for a scan but the thought of having to pay a fortune to sit in a waiting room with a toddler for hours wasn’t appealing in my present state. I’d ride it out and visit the GP in the morning.
For the next 3 days I was unable to bear any weight on that leg, walking was impossible. My head was racing constantly to the event. If I couldn’t walk now how could I walk 21km in just over a week? My myotherapist treated me every second day to reduce the inflammation and I found a new GP as the previous told me to rest for 6 weeks; that wasn’t going to do. I needed strong pain killers and a referral for a MRI. Once again the local bulk billing practice came through prescribing me endone and an anti-nausea combination while still recommending I seriously consider whether I should do the event. There was no thought it my mind other than completing it although admittedly I was scared about the long term damage I could do. The pain was contant and I was popping painkillers every 4 hours to function. I hadn’t told my friends about the injury as I worried they’d pull out. Once again I’d need their support more than I’d expected.
Event day arrived and there was more media interviews and photos to do on the start line. Just getting to the start line from the car took some effort. My wonderful myotherapist had generously offered to meet me at the start line and strap up my knees and ankles, I also had a knee brace and walking poles. The endone masked the pain and with my body strapped up I was as ready as I was going to be. I pinned on my number on the front and message to my husband on the back and headed to the start line for the interviews. It was abuzz with excitement and all smiles whilst at the back of my mind I still questioned how I was going to complete it.
The masses arrived and we set off at a ok pace, I thought if I could keep this up it would be manageable and the first 5kms were. That’s when I realised the extent of my injury. The physical pain once again would dominate my thoughts compounded by the mental anguish of the event and why I was walking. I reminded myself that my pain was nothing compared to the pain my husband had experienced. My girlfriend Amanda and I had some powerful conversations through some very dark and gut wrenchingly painful moments when every step felt agonising. Her friendship had and still continues to be unexpected and so wonderful. She pulled me through and we crossed the line together receiving our participation medal.
I was the third highest fundraiser receiving 43 donations from generous family and friends and raising $3,179.65. I clocked over 430km in training walks with my son. This was dedicated to my precious and cherish son Jack, to keep his father’s memory alive and know that he is forever always with us in our hearts and minds.