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Changing track in a big way

Leukaemia set me off happily on a new path

Leukaemia and changing track in a big way

Being diagnosed with Leukaemia in May 2019 was a shock. I hadn’t been particularly unwell, just some repeated colds that prompted my GP to send me for blood tests.

When you get early morning calls from the blood test centre and the local hospital haematology department in quick order you know it’s not good news. Immediately referred from Basildon to Barts –St Bartholomew’s Hospital near St Paul’s – the daily routine quickly switched to treatment and survival.

In spite of all of that entailed over the difficult weeks of chemotherapy that spring and into summer, walking was always on my mind as a comfort, background therapy and long-term challenge to fight myself better.

In the same way that being made redundant from my 15-year job heading digital at the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2015 gave me the opportunity to try my hand as a self-employed digital media consultant, here was another chance to change my life and try something completely different.

My thoughts turned to walking, both for fun again as soon as possible, and to other ends. Fairly early on during my first seven-week stint of chemotherapy I came up with the concept of doing a sponsored walk to give something back to Barts via their charity arm… that would eventually go on to become A Really Goode Walk.

At the same time, the life of work was pretty much on hold. So walking as a hobby, for fun, for fitness and health – yes, tick. But walking as a living? And yet I found there was an organisation called Mountain Training, and they offered qualifications I could do to allow me to set up as a walking leader. The rest is history… albeit through more chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant (aided by Anthony Nolan), ups and downs of treatment over the next few years and an ongoing Covid pandemic.

Fully qualified in 2021 as a Mountain Training Lowland Leader, an Outdoor First Aider, a Mental Health First Aider, and also a certified Leave No Trace Trainer, I was good to go for Goode Walks as soon as I was fit and ready, and Covid had lowered its ugly head enough.

So here we are in spring 2022 at the start of another leg of the journey. I hope it’s a long and enjoyable one – and that you’ll join me along the way in enjoying the great outdoors on a Goode Walk.

...So here we are in spring 2022 at the start of another leg of the journey. I hope it’s a long and enjoyable one

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