A mum who has been told she only has years left to live is hoping to raise £20,000 for cancer charities by organising a series of sponsored walks around the world.
Elaine Hammond, who has secondary breast cancer, has set up the World Walk initiative, which will take place in May and raise money for Willen Hospice, Macmillan and Cancer Research UK.
There will be an event in Milton Keynes as well as scores of other places including Hadrian’s Wall, Ireland, Australia.
The 50 year old was diagnosed in November 2012, having put off her seeing her doctor for several months.
“I had actually started feeling unwell in March which meant the cancer had been able to spread through my bones in my neck, spine and pelvis.
“I thought I was suffering with a bad neck pain so had been taking a Neurofen tablet at night. I have got a high pain threshold.
“My doctor told me the average life span is three-and-a-half years. But that is an average and based on old information. I am two-and-a-half years in and feel brilliant. I know people who have gone on 20 years.”
Elaine’s husband Stephen, 54, had proposed to her two days before she was diagnosed and the couple married in July 2013.
However, around the same time Elaine lost eight friends to cancer in as many weeks.
This, combined with a desire to give something back to charities which have helped her fight the disease, spurred her to set up World Walk.
“It got me thinking, if more research had been done maybe those deaths could have been avoided. Cancer Research do a fantastic job. I take a tablet each day which keeps me well and that is thanks to them.”
Elaine, who is mum to Ashley, 22, and Robyn, 19, is a keen walker and had scaled the Andes and the Alps prior to becoming ill.
“I had always wanted to do Mount Kilimanjaro - that was going to be my project. I went up Ben Nevis in September to see how I would cope and although I got to the top it was a real struggle. I realised I wouldn’t have the stamina to do Kilimanjaro.
“I was so frustrated but Steve said how about walking the route of Hadrian’s Wall? It’s about 80 miles and linear and I could probably cope with that. At the time it was just going to be a personal challenge but I got speaking to a friend who does quite a few sponsored walks and she asked if she could come along. Then more and more people said they wanted to join in and that’s when I got the idea for the event.
“I have a niece in Australia and she said she wanted to do it so that’s when I thought to make it global.”
Elaine, who is an IT project manager for Barclays in Milton Keynes, got in contact with group Walking For Health who have helped her arrange walks across the country. There has also been interest in the event from countries as far flung as Puerto Rico, USA, New Zealand, India and Singapore.
She is keen on other people to come forward and arrange their own walks between May 10-17.
Elaine, who lived for 20 years in Furzton, Milton Keynes prior to moving to Northants earlier this year, is happy for others to fundraise for different cancer charities.
“It doesn’t matter how long the walk is. It can be miles and miles or - if you are ill or disabled - it could just be a walk around the garden if that is a challenge to you.”
The walk at Milton Keynes Pagoda takes place on Saturday, May 10 at 9.30am. There is a choice of 5, 10 and 15 mile walks.
Elaine will there to cheer you on, although given the nature of her illness she is unsure whether she will be able to complete the walks.