A FORMER cancer patient has marked the 10th anniversary of completing her treatment with a 200-mile walking challenge for charity.
Emma Fortescue completed a round-trip walk of the catchment area of Salisbury District Hospital as a way to thank those who treated her.
Her effort has raised more than £6,300 for the hospital’s charity, the Stars Appeal.
“I wanted to do it for me and to do something positive to mark the 10th anniversary of my treatment and raise money for the Stars Appeal,” she said.
“I also wanted to do something to thank the doctors and nurses for their amazing skills and dedication in helping me to get better and show how lucky we are to have this wonderful hospital.”
The 59-year-old started the walk at the Stars Appeal headquarters at the hospital on September 1. However, just days after setting off, blisters thwarted her efforts and she was forced to rest up to allow her feet to heal.
“That was a challenge because I had got myself so psyched up to do it and after day four I suddenly had to re-evaluate it and was not able to carry on as I had envisaged,” she said.
Despite the setback Emma, supported by her husband Anthony and dog Mabel as well as friends who joined her on some of the stages of the journey, was soon back on track and did one or two walks a week of around 14 miles a day, which took her from Salisbury through to areas including Ringwood, Blandford, Westbury, Devizes, and back to the hospital.
And she said the day she completed the challenge, November 18, was a very emotional experience.
“I think it just hit me because I had thought that I probably wouldn’t be here in the 10 years and I am, so I’m very lucky,” she said.
Emma, who lives in Gussage St Michael, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2012 and had a mastectomy as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
It was a scary time for her and her family, which she said was made easier thanks to the Stars Appeal.
“A lot goes through your mind and it is the fear about having cancer and telling your family,” Emma said.
“Our son had just set off travelling so having to tell him and my girls, 10 and 12, who were so young was very hard. I thought I’m not going to see them grow up but the care from everybody at the Hospital was phenomenal.”
During her treatment, she benefited from projects funded by the Stars Appeal which included free aromatherapy sessions.
“When I had the first round of chemo there was an aromatherapist who the Stars Appeal fund,” she added.
“I was terrified but she was so calming and reassuring. It’s nice to be able to keep things like that going. It made such a difference to me.”
Emma has so far raised more than £6,300 for the Stars Appeal, which will go towards supporting other cancer patients and enhancing facilities on the Breast Unit and Pembroke Unit at the Hospital. She also volunteers for the charity in a variety of roles including in the Stars Appeal Bookshop.
She thanked everybody who helped her to raise such a fantastic amount for the Stars Appeal.