We did it! I am still smiling. Yesterday was such an amazing day. Team Pinchy did the 10 mile Pink Ribbon Walk at Petworth House in Sussex, and has so far raised more than £2,700 for Breast Cancer Care.
The day started well: DH let me have a lie in, and woke me with a cuppy tea and a good luck card, before making me a properly good fry up. (I might hang onto him…) Then at 11am, me, my mummy, my sister, and my beautiful friends S, N and B met in the marquee, all in our pink t-shirts with our numbers pinned to the front, all nervously excited.
Mummy had made us all bracelets from pink beads, and B very kindly surprised us all with a Champney’s voucher for a pedicure for our soon-to-be-battered feet. My lovely Pops had volunteered to be a marshal, so he was there too, and dished out lovingly-created bags of all day breakfast with sausages, boiled eggs, biscuits, and even little packets of salt, pepper and his usual ‘parsley garnish’.
After a welcome from the event organisers, the editor of sponsor Woman & Home magazine, and celebrity supporter Andrea McLean (her off of Loose Women, accompanied by her mad dog, also in a pink t-shirt), we had a bit of a warm-up led by Green Goddess Diana Moran. And then at midday, we were off! There were 800 people walking yesterday, and as the line of pink t-shirts stretched ahead of us on the Downs (we started at the back), I felt quite overwhelmed by the scale and significance of the event.
The South Downs are without doubt one of the most beautiful bits of the country, and the views as we trekked up and down the hills were stunning, with a dream cottage round every corner. The weather was perfect – white clouds scudding across blue skies. The sun came out long enough to cheer us, and the clouds kept us cool enough. We walked in pairs, rather than all together, being of differing heights and ages, and caught up with each other at rest/water/wee/lunch stops along the route.
At mile 5, mummy jettisoned her 20 year old trainers, which had inevitably fallen apart almost instantly, and did the second half of the walk in flip flops. At mile 7, some Enid Blyton-style enterprising children were selling homemade lemonade by the side of track, with 50% of profits going to the charity. I found mile 7-8 the toughest, including lots of very steep, narrow tracks through muddy woods, with burning thighs. (Obviously none of us had done any proper training…)
At the top of the final hill we saw Petworth House come into view again, and felt elated as we did the last achy mile. As we approached the finish line, I saw some little figures running through the grass, and realised it was DD, DS, and my gorgeous nephew. I got a bit wobbly at that point, as they raced towards us, and I walked the last 100 yards holding hands with my babies. Just before the finish, DH and my lovely brother-in-law met us with glasses of pink champagne – such a fab, thoughtful gesture. (It has to be said that the dads all did a stirling job being On Duty all day yesterday, including taking our respective smalls to parties, sorting out meals, naps, and clothing, dealing with little accidents, and generally keeping the children alive).
We all tied our pink ribbons to the finish line, and Team Pinchy crossed it together, arm in arm, and all in tears. It was an extremely emotional moment: I’m actually sobbing again as I write this. We’d carried our ribbons throughout the walk, with personal messages written on them. I dedicated mine to Team Pinchy and all the mummies who go through breast cancer. All the messages were so touching (although S was concerned that her lovely dedication sounded a bit final, like I’d actually died).
We’d done it in just over four hours. I remember cheers, and photographers, and feeling we’d really achieved something. We hugged, cried, rested, drank, and watched the kiddies, including B’s daughter, dancing on the stage to Madonna and Queen. Then we all went our separate ways, elated and emotional. We headed back to my sister’s house for a well-deserved takeaway (my mum’s legs had completely seized up by this point, bless her), and drove home with sleeping children, before sleeping for a full, uninterrupted eight hours for the first time in months.
I woke this morning still on a real high. Because although, as S’s DH pointed out, we’d only walked a couple of times round a golf course, it was a Big Thing. When we registered in February, I had two chemos and surgery to go, and the walk felt like a very long way away, in all ways. And then the day was upon us, and I was with some of the people I love best in the world, who have always been there and who have supported me so brilliantly since I was diagnosed.
It was a strange feeling, being the one who they were walking for. Every so often, it hits me that I have had breast cancer, and it’s a shock all over again, like being winded. But at the same time as forcing me to acknowledge what I’ve been through, the day felt like a real marker in the sand. A line drawn very firmly under the worst of the treatment. A celebration that we have all got through it, together. A very firm two fingers up to caaancer. I felt strong, and so alive. And so very, very honoured, proud, and humbled to have been joined on the walk by five wonderful women.
Breast Cancer Care exists so no-one – women, men, partners, friends and family – has to go through breast cancer alone, and Team Pinchy embodied those values to perfection yesterday. So thank you – everyone who was there, all the virtual members of my team, everyone who sent messages, and everyone who donated so generously. On paper, it may only have been the equivalent of a corporate golf jolly, but in practice, it was one of the most memorable days of my life. Go Team Pinchy, blisters and all! Whoop whoop!