Joining Laurence’s mission was a summer impulse - a really good one. For those who don’t know me, this is not the first time I join fundraising walks for various conditions (which I prefer not to call diseases - a personal choice of words...). In fact, this is how I started walking in the first place when in my early forties my family was touched by the twisted cruelty of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - a condition that doesn’t kill but makes people suffer, sometimes a lot. Since then, I have walked a three-day 50-mile walk for MS several times, many more times one-day MS walks, as well as walks for diabetes (for a colleague with the condition), and autism (as it kept passing by my Bethesda home year after year).
That said, Laurence’s walk is different than any of the previous ones. It is so much more personal, and ambitious, and monumental! I admire Laurence for what he is doing and am thankful to him for letting me be a small part of it. I am also deeply thankful to friends and colleagues who encouraged me in my challenge and supported the cause. I walked with Laurence for two days in Cornwall, England - between Treen and St Ives and then between St Ives and Gwithian.
I also met Laurence’s friends Vicky, Richard, and Dan. Those who follow www.3500toendit.com have probably seen Richard there or might have read Dan’s great blog about nutrition for good walking - thank you, Dan!
In this little blog, I would like to share a couple of things that I learned in preparation for and during the two-day journey, some things that I had never seen before, and a few words that I heard for the first time.
First and foremost, I learned about the preventability of cervical cancer - a cause to which I applied my efforts. Laurence’s website (www.3500toendit.com) contains a lot on this topic so I won’t dwell on it. I just want to say that Laurence is a great ambassador for the cause. He has a subtle way of bringing in new information on the topic in a way that is easy to understand and remember. I learned how beautiful Cornwall is, in a strangely different way from any other place I have seen. The two days were also strikingly different. The cloudy Day 1 we spent in a sternly beautiful area of former tin mines, huge boulders, and seals talking to the world from a nearby island.
The sunnier second day took us along beautiful sand beaches, square church towers, the Oldest Cornish Pasty Maker in the World, and countless rabbit holes.
One feature common to both days was the huge variety of stiles, some obviously discriminatory against people with high BMI... In the midst of it all was St Ives - an art capital of the area and beyond, with the Tate Gallery and many other art establishments that coexist (seemingly) peacefully with local fishermen and curious tourists.
Here is what I saw for the first time in my life:
I stumbled upon huge flowers of aloe - some of them so big that they were collapsing under their weight, and Laurence had to lift them up.
I walked though an area with probably the greatest concentration of rabbit holes in the world - which made me understand how Alice ended up in Wonderland. I also had Cornish pasty and cider for the first time - following the advice of Rick Steves, my trusted guide to new worlds... And a couple of new words I learned: - Part of the trail was “brambly” (in fact there were brambles everywhere!); - I earned a Fitbit “Cleats” badge when I reached 40k steps on the second day. I also earned the linguistically less exciting “Cowboy Boots” badge later that day when I reached 50k steps.
I wish Laurence good days ahead and hope people will continue to provide support to the cause of eliminating cervical cancer within a generation.