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As we career towards Christmas in this extraordinary year. I was reflecting on how strange and odd this year had been.
Firstly as you will be aware, I knew that the beginning of this year was not going to be much fun as my Chemo treatment started in Dec 2019. Due to this I knew I was still going to be undergoing treatment right up until March.
However little did I know that the day I finished all my Chemotherapy treatment would be the day that we were going to be locked down for the majority of the summer.
I was and still am on the ‘critically extremely vulnerable’ list, and as such was not sure if the completion of my treatment would go ahead. Radiotherapy should have started in April. It was delayed by a couple of weeks, and I finished that in the middle of June this year.
When the restrictions of lockdown were eased in July. At this point I hadn’t seen any of my immediate family since Christmas Day the year before. Distance was not helping, although Zoom was! Plus my daughter lives in Wales, where their rules were completely different to ours. We did manage a trip to see my parents in August.
Everyone thus far had been trying to support me as best they could from afar.
My recovery was going well, and I was managing as far as possible to go out everyday even for a short walk. Then in September ‘bam’ my breathing started to go haywire. This led to a stint in A&E. After loads of tests that took me to October/November, we were still none the wiser as to what had caused this.
Although by this time my breathing had improved quite a lot, I was still finding that by 2 or 3pm my energy levels would completely disappear. I was then told that I have a lung condition that there is currently no cure for. Not exactly the news I was hoping for.
After the end of October, I was well aware that I needed something to make me go out everyday and exercise. I’d had a goal to be able to wlk into town by the end of September. Obviously, that deadline was missed!
We managed to get away to Brighton for a long weekend, before they shut all the hotels etc up again. Whilst there we did manage some short strolls along the beach, however, this killed me off quite quickly, and made me get more frustrated with myself, for not being able to do what I used to.
Then I came across something, whilst idly scrolling through Facebook. An advert for virtual challenges, where for a fee you would get a medal for your efforts at the end of it. At the time they were a little out of my price range so I ignored it. www.theconqueror.events
I started to go back out and do some short walks, and had found a good app so that I could track my steps and distances. Come the middle of November, my breathing had improved an awful lot since October and I was finding that I was feeling better. Then ‘Black Friday’ came along and happened to coincide with that advert for virtual challenges popping up again in my Facebook feed. This time due to the discount I plunged in with both feet and signed up.
The challenge I saw that I was very interested in www.theconqueror.events was the Mt Fuji challenge and the medal looks absolutely stunning. The great thing with these challenges is you can do them at your own pace, so I decided that I was going to do the 74km (46 m) walk in 12 weeks, not knowing how much that would actually motivate me.
So began what I have dubbed my ‘Recovery Walks.’ What has astounded me, is how much motivation I now have to go out every day despite the weather. I’ve walked in the pouring rain and got soaked through. I’ve also walked in Fog and -2C temperatures, just to get my daily walk in.
This day was freezing. Same view 2 days before!
Where I am at now, Wow!
As of Monday 7th December 2020 I had managed to complete 40% of the Mount Fuji challenge. For every 20% of this challenge that I complete I also plant a tree to help with the reforestation of some of the most deforested areas in the world in partnership with www.edenprojects.org. I also receive digital postcards along the way which gives you loads of information about the area your walking in (4 of 6). So far it has been a very interesting experience and I’ve learnt a lot, about Mount Fuji and Japan. Yesterday I planted my third tree of five, and have covered 45.4km of the 74km distance.
How have I managed to come so far so fast?
I’m not sure, firstly I was fairly fit to start with so that probably helped, but the speed at which my distance has gone up has amazed me.
On 25th November I was managing 2km walks every day, and I upped that at the end of that week to 3km. Fast forward to last Sunday 6th December, I managed to walk 5k+ and achieve my goal of being able to walk into town. On the Friday, I had found another virtual challenge company, this time based in the UK called ichallengemyself.com. Their challenges are cheaper and 10% of every challenge goes to NHS charities. They had medals for shorter distances and since 5k was roughly how far it would be to walk to town and back I again signed up for their medal. I earned that on Sunday and it arrived yesterday in the post. I had to submit evidence of the distance, which I did using my ‘mapmywalk’ app. I am very proud of myself. To have come that far in the space of around 3 weeks is absolutely incredible, and I have a medal to prove it (winter challenge: Smile and Wave 5k).
The benefits I have seen, I want to go for a walk everyday to get my miles in. I know every step I take is good for my physical health, as I can now do so much more than I could back in the summer. I have a goal with a reward at the end of it. Best of all, my breathing has improved and my mental health is in a much better place than it has been for a long time. My ‘Recovery Walks’ have done just that aided my recovery, and best of all, I should summit Mt Fuji by the end of next week! So I’ll get a medal for Christmas.