Maryke Stansfield – my mesothelioma walk

Losing my younger brother Richard to mesothelioma was hard to take in. However, the help and support that Mesothelioma UK had given him and his wife since the diagnosis was tremendous. We live in mid-Wales and mulling over things in my mind one day, I realised that the Owen Glendower walking trail went within a mile of my home and passed the door of my brother’s home.

I wanted to thank the charity for the wonderful care they had given him and in some personal way make a contribution and combine that with a way of saying goodbye. The trail is one of the most spectacular and least trodden in the UK. The distance between the two houses is about 71 miles and my brother was 71 when he died.

He loved the countryside in Wales and the abundance of wildlife, and so the idea took off. I am not so young any more and some friends were horrified to realise that I would be some distance from roads and in places the country is wild. To walk that trail on your own seemed a crazy idea, but I was determined.

I did the walk in sections of roughly 10 miles per day, one day per week, which for me was more than enough. I had to take a rest from walking for a couple of weeks when my legs had taken such a pounding that a lot of capillaries in the lower legs broke down, however they soon mended and I was able to continue. It was a joy to observe the wildlife that my brother would have revelled in, a family of kites being taught to fly, sheep constant companions at times, wild flowers and birdsong on the high tops. Some of the climbs were rather steep and hard going.

For the last few legs, a kind friend and her dog joined me and I had by then, managed to download an app from the ordnance survey on my mobile phone to save me from getting lost as
often. I am not very tall and in places the summer growth meant I could not find the way markers.

I decided to simply put a Just Giving page up on the web, tell a few friends and get on with the job. I have been touched and amazed at the kindness of people who sponsored me and delighted with the money raised – £836.50. This was a new departure for me and I am so pleased to have been able to help.

I could not have done any of this without the support and driving that my husband did, dropping me off and collecting me en route. He often had to wait around for a long time as I always managed to under-estimate the length of time it would take me to reach my next pick up point. During the whole of the 10 walking days I only met 11 people – that is enough to give you a glimpse of the distance the trail is from the everyday world. It was the perfect way to say a positive goodbye.