Sunday, 15 January 2012

Climb every mountain

This time in just three short months I'll be somewhere in Peru wondering what I'm doing spending the next ten days with a bunch of strangers up a very high mountain.

I signed up to a charity trek to Machu Picchu to raise money for Breast Cancer Care last year, when it seemed a long time in the future, when the scariest thing was having to ask people for money and when I didn't know a single other person doing it.

Since then, thanks to kind donations, cake sales, comedy night, clothes swishing, sponsored running and tin rattling, I’ve raised just short of my £3,000 target. I have met, through email and Face Book at least, a dozen of my fellow trekkers, all women, most of who have also signed up solo. Now it's time to start seriously thinking about the trek itself – and I have many mixed feelings flying about!

Nervous? Absolutely! I'm spending 24 hours a day for ten days in some extreme conditions with people I don't know. I will be camping and doing without proper showers or toilets (not my idea of a good time). Although I am on a fitness regime I’ve heard lots of stories about how altitude sickness affects even the fittest of people.  I’ve finally read the information pack properly and realised that I need thermals and a sleeping bag that can withstand minus 15 degrees (I hate being cold!) as well as t-shirts and sun protection.

Excited? Definitely! This is going to be one hell of an experience. Having spoken to others who've done it recently, their tales and unanimous enthusiasm that they'd do it again (despite the lack of toilets and how ill they may have been) reinforces that this really is an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity.

I am also a little bit proud of myself. The reason I'm doing this is to raise funds for Breast Cancer Care. Not a natural fundraiser, though happy to regularly donate to charities, it's the first time I've ever got so involved in this sort of thing. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, I know how increasingly vital the work of organisations like BCC is. I know first hand that while the NHS is largely good at doing what it does, there is such a lot of other help, information and support you only get from other places.  The fund raising has been hard but worth it - and maybe I'll give it a go again in the future.

I'm sure I'll also be proud of completing the challenge of the trek. In the almost four years since I was diagnosed I've set up my own business, learned to scuba dive, been on holiday by myself for the first time, rediscovered a love of horse riding, ran my first half marathon, been backpacking for the first time. I don't know if I've been driven to do so much over the past few years because I now have an absolute appreciation of how short life is and there's lots I want to do and try, or because I'm trying to convince myself that I can still do absolutely anything and everything, or maybe it's just some kind of normal mid-life crisis and fortysomething madness! Who knows? But after this next big challenge I may have a bit of a rest. Or not. We'll see…

If you want to find out more about my charity trek see Mission Machu Picchu

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