Guest blog – Siân Phipps
During September and October last year, I walked 750 miles of the Wales Coast Path in memory of friends and family – myself included – who have battled with cancer.
It was a tough mental and physical challenge.
Eighteen months earlier I had undergone major surgery, which had left me pretty weak and inflexible. However, following a couple of consultations with Claire and then weekly Pilates classes, I felt I had built up the strength and flexibility to at least attempt it.
I took a few months to plan the logistics, e.g. deciding on the mileages, where to stay, what to carry, and how to link up with friends along the route. Looking back, I probably could have been more organised, but winging it seemed to be part of the thrill.
I was really touched with a great send-off from friends and family in Cardiff Bay on a sweltering August bank holiday. After that, I walked an average of 7 hours a day, depending on the terrain and the distances involved – anything from 9 to 18 miles.
It was important to keep my legs, shoulders and back up to the task, so each morning and evening I practised the Pilates exercises that Claire had recommended for me. I found it difficult those first few days walking along the North Wales coast where most of the Path has a hard surface.
My blisters were so bad during the first week I had to make do with flip flops until I could buy another pair of boots. Apart from falling flat on my face on the penultimate day, there were no real problems though.
Pilates was important for keeping me focused, especially on those days when I was walking solo and got lost a few times.
Every day I was rewarded by the stunning beauty of the Welsh coastline, which was enough to lift the spirits on even the wettest of days.
Yet it was the support of family and friends that was so crucial to my completing the walk, and the kindness of complete strangers amazed me nearly every day. It’s still a beautiful world we live in.
I would like to thank all those people who walked with me, or put me up for the night, or who just cheered me on via texts and Facebook, and of course the hundreds of people who donated to my cause, Cancer Research Wales.
Special thanks go to my mother Marilyn (my Pilates buddy), for raising hundreds of pounds through her friends at Llanishen Golf Club, and to my Aunties Pam, Janet and Kay, who raised over £500 through Aberbeeg Methodist Chapel.
I have so far collected nearly £6,000.
Thank you, Claire, for making me fit to do it, for giving me the tools to cope with the physical and mental challenge, and for keeping me moving when I finished!
The moral of the story is: you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
If you feel you would like to make a donation to support cancer research, please do visit my justgiving page.