WAIN­WRIGHT’S CURE - A PER­SONAL JOUR­NEY

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Living Legends - by Jan­ice Collins © Jan­ice Collins

I first heard the name Al­fred Wain­wright in June 2010 al­most a decade after his death. Whilst hol­i­day­ing in UK my hus­band and I spent a week in the Lake Dis­trict. We were cap­ti­vated by the beauty and va­ri­ety of the land­scape that Wain­wright’s guides opened up for us and promised our­selves that once I had re­tired from nurs­ing we would spend three months each Euro­pean sum­mer, our win­ter, ex­plor­ing Bri­tain’s many walk­ing trails.

How­ever as so of­ten hap­pens to ideas con­ceived on hol­i­day our plans did not to come to fruition. Once back home we slipped into our old rou­tines. I was en­joy­ing work as a theatre nurse and was not ready to re­tire at 57 and Tony de­rived great plea­sure from rais­ing veg­eta­bles and fruit on our 10 acre prop­erty along with play­ing bridge reg­u­larly.

The first blow came in 2011. A very close friend was di­ag­nosed with an ag­gres­sive and in­op­er­a­ble brain tu­mour, he was 54. This was fol­lowed soon after by the still­birth of our first grand­chil­dren, twin boys. As a re­sult our son and his American born wife then re­turned to the USA to be closer to her fam­ily. Whilst grad­u­ally re­cov­er­ing from all this sad­ness we were hit with the cru­elest news. Tony had been to the GP be­cause he had a swollen gland in his neck, it turned out to be a sec­ondary or metastatic cancer. There were more in his ribs and spine. The next few weeks were a blur of tests, in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pro­ce­dures try­ing to lo­cate a pri­mary tu­mour. One was never found and a di­ag­no­sis of Cancer of Un­known Pri­mary (C.U.P.) was handed down like a death sen­tence.

Be­cause Tony was still feel­ing well and we had booked a trip to the USA we ig­nored the doc­tor’s ad­vice and con­tin­ued with prepa­ra­tions for our trip. Our son and his wife were ex­pect­ing an­other baby and we wanted to be with them as they were un­der­stand­ably anx­ious. Sadly we missed the birth be­cause Tony needed ur­gent ra­dio­ther­apy to the tu­mour in his spine. The news that our grand­daugh­ter was de­liv­ered with­out a prob­lem was won­der­ful. Felic­ity was three weeks old when we fi­nally ar­rived and we spent a glo­ri­ous time en­joy­ing her and then fit­ting in some sight­see­ing.

It was the trip of a life­time, which we both en­joyed and one I will re­mem­ber for­ever as it turned out to be our last. A few months after re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia, Tony’s con­di­tion grad­u­ally be­gan to im­pact and after a coura­geous fight he died at home on 14th Au­gust 2014.

As any­one who has lost a loved one will know, the first 12 months fol­low­ing the death are the hard­est to get through. I can only speak from the ex­pe­ri­ence of los­ing some­one as a re­sult of ill­ness and do not know if an un­ex­pected, sud­den death is dif­fer­ent. For me it was a slow death, watch­ing my pre­vi­ously fit and ac­tive hus­band fad­ing away grad­u­ally so that when it fi­nally hap­pened I was relieved that both his and my suf­fer­ing was over. This was rapidly fol­lowed by guilt for har­bour­ing such feel­ings and then anger at the in­jus­tice of it all, anger at a med­i­cal sys­tem that couldn’t fix him and anger at a god that seemed not to care. Then came the re­al­i­sa­tion that I have to spend the rest of my life with­out him.

As the spe­cial dates of Christ­mas, his birth­day and what would have been our 36th wed­ding an­niver­sary passed I dreaded the ap­proach of the an­niver­sary of his death. Although out­wardly cop­ing well and get­ting on with life I des­per­ately needed some­thing to fo­cus on be­yond that date. A mo­ti­va­tion.

Call it co­in­ci­dence, fate or di­vine in­ter­ven­tion; what­ever your be­lief sys­tem de­mands, I chanced upon a DVD in the lo­cal li­brary that pro­vided that much needed mo­ti­va­tion.

Ju­lia Brad­bury’s Coast to Coast, a BBC pro­duc­tion in 6 episodes.

Un­fa­mil­iar with the name of Ju­lia Brad­bury and un­aware of Wain­wright’s amaz­ing ac­com­plish­ment in map­ping this now world fa­mous walk, I bor­rowed the DVD ex­pect­ing sim­ply to en­joy some pretty English coastal scenery. It was so much more.

From Wain­wright’s open­ing words read in that slow, com­fort­ing York­shire ac­cent I was gripped with an un­shake­able be­lief that I must do this walk and it would lead me out of my lethargy and grief.

“One should al­ways have a def­i­nite ob­jec­tive; in a walk as in life it is so much more sat­is­fy­ing to reach a target by per­sonal ef­fort than to wan­der aim­lessly. An ob­jec­tive is an am­bi­tion and life with­out am­bi­tion is - well- aim­less wan­der­ing” A.W. Wain­wright.

These few words res­onated with me.

Yes, I was wan­der­ing aim­lessly since Tony died.

Yes, I badly needed an ob­jec­tive. Here was the mo­ti­va­tion I had been look­ing for. Tony had loved walk­ing, I loved walk­ing.

I guess if I’d lis­tened to or read about the sci­ence be­hind the health ben­e­fits of walk­ing I might have dragged my­self out of my grief ear­lier but its easy to say that with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight.

Walk­ing used to be some­thing ev­ery­body did as a mat­ter of ne­ces­sity. Now it is con­sid­ered a hobby. No ex­pen­sive equip­ment is re­quired, no mem­ber­ship fees to be paid and the re­sults are amaz­ing. a brisk half hour walk three times a week will help re­duce obe­sity , high blood pres­sure and choles­terol, it im­proves joint mo­bil­ity and mus­cle tone and the re­lease of en­dor­phins make you feel good.

Hav­ing made up my mind to do this walk I searched the in­ter­net for in­for­ma­tion on the Coast to Coast. I was re­warded with pages of ads for tour com­pa­nies, blogs, pho­tos, maps and ad­vice. It was May and I booked my trip for Septem­ber be­fore I had time to re­con­sider and come up with a raft of very sen­si­ble rea­sons for not do­ing it.

The Coast to Coast path is a 306km trail that tra­verses the north of Eng­land from St Bees on the west coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east. Those who round this down to 300 km have ob­vi­ously not had to walk those last 6km. The route takes in three of Bri­tain’s Na­tional Parks. The very pic­turesque Lake Dis­trict, the York­shire Dales and the wild North York Moors. It is a tough and chal­leng­ing walk that many find harder than they ex­pected.

So fo­cussed was I on train­ing for this challenge that the an­niver­sary of Tony’s death passed with­out an emo­tional break­down. The day was spent walk­ing with friends with whom I later shared a few wines and drank to Tony’s mem­ory.

Wain­wright’s Cure was be­gin­ning to work.

“Wain­wright’s Cure - A Per­sonal Jour­ney” by Jan­ice Collins is pub­lished as an ePub (for most dig­i­tal de­vices and for Kin­dle). It in­cludes many pho­to­graphs of the mag­nif­i­cent scenery that Jan­ice en­coun­tered on her walk and is avail­able to buy with in­stant down­load from: http://the­p­os­i­tivepub­lisher.com/wain­wright-s-cure---a-per­sonal-jour­ney.html

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