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Walking for a cause 2 by Lada Strelkova

Toward the end of a beautiful European summer last year, I walked in support of Laurence’s mission - a great experience of learning how creating awareness can help prevent cervical cancer (see, getting to know the strangely beautiful Cornwall, and having first-time encounters with huge aloe plants, enormous rabbit holes, Cornish pasty and cider, all in a rather brambly environment. Many friends and colleagues supported me in my decision to join Laurence’s walk for the noble cause of eliminating cervical cancer in a generation - I thank you all for doing so.

Six month later, in the middle of a cold and rainy February, I decided to go back to see how Laurence’s effort was proceeding in the fickle English weather. This short blog reports on what I learned during my second trip and is part of my tiny contribution to raising the awareness about the preventability of cervical cancer.

I joined Laurence and his friends Helen, and then Frederike and Bas, in Cumbria, on the English side of the border between England and Scotland. These were Laurence’s days 245 to 248 of his walking adventure around England and Wales.

Lada, Laurence, Frederike and Bas.

We walked along the estuary of the river Eden and at the start of the Hadrian’s Wall Trail. Here are some highlights of what I learned or saw for the first time:

- I learned that creating awareness about HPV vaccination of both girls and boys is a critical component in the fight against cervical cancer. In Laurence’s words, money helps, awareness helps even more. I learned some more about the importance of HPV testing and of the pluses and minuses of some new self-testing options.

- From Laurence and his friend Helen, I learned that friendships have a timeline of their own that remains uninterrupted even if people had not met for decades.

Helen, at the western end of the Hadrian's Wall path.

I learned the history of the Hadrian’s Wall - a fascinating remnant of the glory of the Roman empire; I hope to return and walk the full Hadrian’s Wall Trail one day.

Bas measuring the width of Hadrian's wall - over 6 feet!

I also (re)learned the difference between a delta and an estuary, the wisdom of not being afraid of the rain when you are wet, and the power of brambles, soggy fields, and knee-deep water as obstacles to free movement of humans.

Wading knee-deep through a marsh/bog gave us a challenge (and a feeling of relief afterwards).

I saw for the first time a murmuration of starlings, a monkey puzzle tree, a Japanese camellia, and the wonderful bush with yellow flowers called gorse.

A monkey-puzzle tree.

I experienced wuthering winds, drizzling rain, and lots of brambles. Hedges and stiles were everywhere along the 47-mile (76-kilometer) route. Stiles in particular definitely made up in quantity and careful maintenance what they possibly lacked in diversity (compared to my only other point of reference - Cornwall:). But I did manage to see one type I had not seen (nor climbed) before...

New style of stile...

I also learned the special Dutch word “gezellig” - the perfect description of my co-walkers Frederike and Bas. Thank you, Frederike and Bas!

I wish Laurence many more good days ahead and hope people will continue to provide support to the cause of eliminating cervical cancer within a generation through creating awareness about the issue and the solutions.

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