Walking the Himalayas to Overcome Cancer

Helen Pyne, 45 years of age from Gastard in Wiltshire, was devastated when she received the life changing diagnosis that she had breast cancer in March 2012. To help her come to terms with this cruel disease and get through the darker days following, Helen took up walking – and discovered that she loved it! Her treatment at the Royal United Hospital has since been successful and has taken part in a number of walking events. On the 30th October she will be lacing up her well-used walking boots to hike for five days through the foothills of the Himalayas as part of The Forever Friends Appeal’s trekking team. Helen is raising funds for the RUH’s Cancer Care Campaign, to give something back after the wonderful treatment and care she has received.

Helen describes her inspirational journey so far and how she’s preparing for the walk of a lifetime: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer on the 20th March 2012 at the RUH – and it brought me to my knees.  However, even with the scary diagnosis of cancer, I was fortunate to only needed a lumpectomy as my lymph nodes were clear. I had the op on the 2nd May 2012 and then went on to four weeks of radiotherapy, so I got to know the RUH Oncology department fairly well!

One week after my op I gave up smoking for good on the 9th May 2012, two years to the day after I lost my Dad to smoking-related cancer.  Due to not having cigarettes and the awful tamoxifen used to treat my cancer, I started putting on weight.  I needed to do something to get myself out of the doldrums to help my mental recovery as well as get moving, so started walking and I found that I love it. I was never really a runner but one day while walking my black labrador Hector, I just decided to go that little bit further, then every day we did the same. We now do 4+ miles daily and at times we can be gone for anything up to 8 miles on a nice evening!

Walking has become Helen’s way to say thank you to all the staff that helped and cared for her throughout treatment and give a little bit back. She explains: “The staff in the oncology department and the breast unit are wonderful people but are working in very tired surroundings, the buildings are so old and depressing which makes a scary time in people’s lives seem even darker. Walking and fundraising for the new Cancer Centre is my way of giving something back and saying thank you for looking after me.

In February 2013, I came across an advert for The Forever Friends Appeal’s Walk of Life and along with 9 friends completed the 21 miles in May and then again the following May raising over £4,000 for the new Cancer Centre. This year I wanted something different, more of a challenge and saw last year’s Great Wall of China walk for the Appeal and thought – YES!  So here I am, getting ready to go to India for the Himalayas Trek later this year. I have never done anything quite like this before and I do like my creature comforts and hate having dirty hands!  But for five days in November I won’t even have a loo to use let alone a sink to wash in – yikes!  It’s going to be one hell of a challenge, but what an experience.  I am so excited and am very much looking forward to it and have my wonderful sister-in-law Sandie coming along too.”

Departing in October 2015, The Forever Friends Appeal’s India Dalai Lama challenge, in association with Global Adventure Challenges, is to trek for 67km over five days through this fascinating region of North India at the heart of the world’s highest mountain range. Trekkers will have the unique opportunity to explore the Kingdom of Gaddi (a semi nomadic race who wander the high passes with their cattle) passing through traditional Hindu settlements, Buddhist Monasteries, pine forests and even a glacier with spectacular views of the Himalayan mountains. This incredible challenge will end with time to explore the incomparable Taj Mahal, the greatest monument to love ever built!

To support Helen’s trek and the RUH Cancer Care Campaign please visit her online fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/HelenPyne.