You will never walk alone with Maggie's
IT was the moment every woman dreads. Sheila Leckie's stomach churned as she realised with mounting horror what she had found.
The lump on her breast wasn't terribly big, but when you're thousands of miles away from home in a hotel room in a strange city, it felt massive.
"I was in New York," she recalls. "It was our second day. I found the lump but I couldn't do anything about it and I couldn't tell anyone. I didn't want to ruin the holiday."
Today, Sheila, 49, is fighting fit. It's three years since she became one of the 45,000 women and men diagnosed with breast cancer every year – one in nine women have to face it.
She is now so fit, indeed, that she's just notched up her second ten-mile Maggie's Edinburgh Life Walk – even if the latest trek was a lonelier experience than her first.
For when more than 350 pairs of feet pound Edinburgh's street for the third annual fundraising stroll, they will be following in Sheila's experienced footsteps.
"I've just tested the walk – and I think it's going to be great," she grins. "I did the walk last year and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I didn't want my friends and colleagues to feel they had to keep sponsoring me. So I thought I'd step back from that side, but I still wanted to help."
Which is why Sheila, of Warriston Drive, pounded the city's streets a couple of weeks ago, checking the route for potential pitfalls and obstacles, and giving vital feedback to the organisers.
The result is that this year's fundraising challenge comes with a special tried and tested guarantee from an expert.
"I know some of the people doing the walk will be recovering from illnesses, and there will also be people who are doing it in support of loved ones and friends who may or may not have made it," she says. "I was keen to make sure that this year's walk is suitable for them all."
The walk – often an emotional experience – takes place on Saturday, November 1, and the route has been chosen to take in architectural and scenic highlights of the Capital reflecting Maggie's Edinburgh Centre's own roots.
It was conceived by Maggie Keswick Jencks and her husband Charles and eventually opened in 1996 within the Western General Hospital.
The walk will set off from Holyrood Park amid a carnival atmosphere and head to the New Town, Western General, and back via Dean Bridge and Lothian Road.
Maggie's Life Walk event manager, Claire Noel, said: "Maggie's Edinburgh Life Walk is about life, about getting fit and celebrating the city's remarkable buildings and green spaces. It is about being with old friends as well as making new ones."
To register for the walk, call 0141-341 5670 or visit www.maggiescentres.org/lifewalks
CAPITAL SUCCESS STORY THAT SET PATTERN
MAGGIE'S Centre Edinburgh was the first of its kind in the UK – today there are such facilities right across the country, each based on the Edinburgh template.
Maggie's offers free support and information for cancer patients and their families. It offers a range of programmes and services, including tai chi, relaxation classes, one-on-one sessions with psychologists, group therapy, nutrition and benefits advice.
It was the brainchild of cancer patient Maggie Keswick Jencks, a garden designer and wife of leading architect Charles Jencks.
Maggie's Centre at the Western General received 18,000 visits last year from people affected by cancer from Edinburgh and surrounding nearby areas – around 75 people a day.
Some 65 per cent of the visitors are female, while 40 per cent of the users are carers, family or friends of patients.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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