Still walking, but not enough!

It’s been two months since I last posted an update on my summer walking challenge. On May 2 of this year, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2. Five months to walk 300 km. Easy peasy! Right?

I got off to a really good start reporting 87.07 km by June 2 and another 63.59 km in the month that followed. Two months into the challenge, I was already half way to my goal. In my third month, I walked another 68.83 km for a total of 219.49 km.

That’s when I slipped off the rails and I’m sad to say that in the past month I walked and/or hiked only 38.41 km! What happened? Well, I could make plenty of excuses. There was time spent with grandchildren. We did go hiking while they were with us, but other than that, I didn’t take time away from them to go for regular walks. We’ve had some rainy days. I do own an umbrella, but it’s easier to stay indoors on those days. And then there’s the fact that I hurt my back again. That one was a pretty good excuse for a few days, but even though it’s still not 100%, I could be going for short walks. In fact, they might even be good for me.

Most of all though, I’ve just been lazy! When it became obvious that I’d be able to reach my goal well ahead of schedule, I slacked off. Now it’s time to get off my butt, lace up those walking shoes, and finish the job! With only 42.1 km left to go and a full month until our anniversary, there’s plenty of time to get this done!

Halfway there!

On May 2nd, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th anniversary on October 2. Some days I really look forward to walking. Others, knowing that I’m going to be reporting my progress here on the blog is the only thing that gets me up and out the door!

This month, I’m a couple of days late posting an update because we’ve been camping without internet for the past few days, but I’m happy to report that by July 1, I’d logged another 63.59 km. That’s over 20 km less than I walked in the first month, but I’ve walked a total of 150.66 km. Two months into my five month challenge I’m already halfway there! At this pace, I should be able to complete my 300 km well ahead of schedule.

Again, most of my walking has been on the streets of town, but we hiked just over 9 km while camping at Big Knife Provincial Park in mid June.

In last month’s update, I mentioned that I needed to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. I tried on several different pairs, but as soon as I put these ones on, I knew I’d found what I was looking for!

It was obvious immediately that these were shoes I’d be able to walk many miles in! They’re very supportive, but incredibly lightweight, and as the name implies, they’re like walking on a cloud! That’s thanks to the flytefoam cushioning in the sole and the soft gel unit in the heel. I also love the fact that at least 20% of the primary material of the shoe’s upper is made with recycled material!

So, even on those days when I don’t really feel like it, I’ll keep on walking and report my progress again next month.

Walking challenge update #1

This is just a quick post to update you on the walking challenge that I wrote about in this post on May 2nd. My plan was to walk (or hike) 300 kilometres in the five months leading up to our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2nd. The anniversary actually has nothing to do with the challenge other than giving me a good end date to aim for! I wrote about my plan because knowing that I’ll be reporting my progress on the blog makes me accountable. It gets me off the couch and out the door on days when I really don’t feel like walking! 

So, how have I done so far? In order to meet my goal, I need to walk at least 60 km a month. For my American readers, that’s approximately 37.3 miles. In the past month, walking 6 days a week, I’ve actually covered 87.07 km! 

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Most of my walking so far has been on the streets of our small town, but I also explored some of the Hardisty Nature Trails and this week we’ve been camping at Dillberry Lake Provincial Park where we did a short 2.3 km hike on Monday evening and then hiked 8.93 km on Tuesday. With a small group of friends I also took part in a 5 km fundraising walk for multiple sclerosis on Sunday. Together we raised over $2500! 

One thing that I’ve discovered in the past month is that I need to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. So far, I’ve been wearing old ones that don’t have much life left in them. I do have my trusty Merrell hiking shoes, but I don’t want to wear them out walking the streets of town. I could also use the ASICS running shoes that I bought last year specifically for the treadmill, but I want to save them for indoor use. Hopefully by the time I update again a month from now, I’ll be able to show you some new shoes as well as reporting another 60 km or more. 

 

Hardisty Nature Trails

In the part of east-central Alberta where we live the land is flat, but 30 kilometres to the east, the town of Hardisty is nestled into the rolling hills of the Battle River valley. Hubby and I love to hike, so we were delighted to learn recently that a system of trails is under development in the area surrounding Hardisty. Of course, exploring them became a priority!

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In 2019, when the Hardisty and District Development Group was formed, they polled area residents asking what they wanted to see in their town. Brittany MacMillan, of BAM Fitness, was quick to respond. “More walking trails!” was her proposal. “We can get you the equipment and the manpower if you show us what your vision is,” she was told and from there the project took off. By October 2019, a map had been finalized, permission granted, and the cutting of trails began. By the following August, the final loop of the river trails was finished. Trail cutting, clearing deadfall, installing gates, building benches, and much more has all been done by volunteers from the community. Plans for this year include adding signage and extending the trails into more treed areas. Another loop is also in the plans which will join the river trails to two other loops including one that circles Hardisty’s nine hole golf course.

This morning, on what promised to be the hottest day so far this year, we set off to explore the river trails. If only a train had come by at just the right moment, this would have been a perfect photo!

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Though we were barely out of town, it seemed as if we were much further away. We were surrounded by nature and couldn’t hear anything but the occasional bird. 

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In those areas where the leaves are coming out on the trees, their brilliant green was striking against the bright blue sky. 

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In many of the open areas, leaves are just coming out on the silver willow bushes. In another couple of weeks, their strong spicy scent will fill the air. 

Trail maps are available at businesses around town, but I printed one from the Hardisty Nature Trails Facebook page. We got a bit confused at the far end of the trail and may have walked right off the map, but we were ready to turn around at that point anyway. According to our GPS, we walked exactly 5.0 kilometres (3.11 miles) in total. On our way back, we stopped and enjoyed our lunch sitting on this grassy patch beside the river. 

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We look forward to returning to explore the other trail loops at a future date. It’s wonderful to have something like this so close to home! 

A new challenge

I’ve been feeling very sluggish lately. I still do my morning exercise routine most days, but I quit weight lifting earlier than usual this spring when I foolishly tried lifting something I shouldn’t have and hurt my back. It’s okay now, so I really have no excuse except laziness and lack of incentive. Today I decided to do something about that!

Remembering back to last year when I walked 179.5 km as part of the Hoofing It Across Canada fundraiser for NET cancer research, I recalled how good all that walking felt and how much it helped to have a specific goal. That’s what I needed; a new challenge!

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October 2, our 45th wedding anniversary, is 5 months or exactly 154 days from now. I have decided to walk (or hike) 300 km between now and then. That’s an average of 1.95 km a day. (For my American readers, that’s a total of approximately 186 miles or 1.2 miles a day.) I know that I’m capable of walking further, but I also know that I won’t walk every single day and I want to set a goal that’s realistic and achievable. I’m telling you about it so that you’ll help keep me accountable. In fact, I’m wondering if anyone wants to join me? If my goal isn’t right for you, set one of your own and tell us about it in the comment section below.

Why walk?

Walking has many benefits including:

  • It’s accessible, easy, and free.
  • It reduces stress and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety which, for many, have been escalated by the current pandemic.
  • It improves heart health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • It increases blood flow and therefore improves energy levels.
  • It improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • It reduces the risk of some cancers.
  • It boosts the immune system.
  • It helps prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
  • It reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
  • It burns calories.
  • It promotes more restful sleep.
  • It improves flexibility and helps ease chronic pain and stiffness.
  • It improves brain function.
  • It’s even been linked to longer life expectancy!

My current walking challenge is not a fundraiser, but I will be participating in a 5 km walk for Multiple Sclerosis research on May 30 in support of a close friend who battles this disease. If you would like to add your support, you can find my fundraising page here.

HOOFED IT!

Over a three day period while camping at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park this past week, Richard and I hiked a total of 23.9 km, pushing me to within just 2 km of my final HOOFING IT Across Canada goal. This evening, under dark cloudy skies that look like they were about to let go and pour rain, I crossed my self-imposed finish line! Since July 1st, I’ve HOOFED IT 179.5 kilometres (111.5 miles). That’s 2.5 km more than the distance from our front door to the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton where I receive all my neuroendocrine (NET) cancer care.

If you’ve been reading my blog or following me on Facebook this summer, you know that I’ve been taking part in the CNETS Canada campaign to raise funds for NET cancer research. The goal was for participants to rack up 5514 km, the distance from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon, by walking, hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling, roller-blading, or any other forward moving activity that they could think of. We did that in spades, criss-crossing Canada almost five times!

Fundraising has been a bigger and vastly more important challenge. This evening, we’re sitting at just over $73,000, but approximately $20,000 of that has come in over the past ten days! For that reason, the deadline for making donations has been extended to September 25. With an extra two and a half weeks, we’re hopeful that we can bring in the final $27,000 necessary to continue funding critically needed neuroendocrine cancer research.

The need for research and awareness was brought home to me again this afternoon when I spent some time chatting online with a NET patient in another Canadian province who was diagnosed in May of this year. She’s been seen by an oncologist and has had surgery, but she hasn’t been referred to a NET specialist. She hadn’t even heard of Sandostatin, the injection that I’ve been receiving every 28 days since diagnosis. It’s been the workhorse medication for neuroendocrine cancer patients for the past 30 years, but her oncologist may never have encountered a NET patient before and may have little or no idea how to treat it. Sadly, this is a common occurrence for NET cancer patients!

Today, with so much attention being directed toward COVID related research (and rightly so) a relatively unknown cancer like ours can easily get overlooked. With many people facing financial difficulties, it’s not easy to keep asking for donations, but let me do it one more time. If you haven’t already and you’re able to give even a small donation, please visit my fundraising page and help us reach our goal. Every dollar counts!

My final goal

Just a quick HOOFING IT Across Canada post today as I have grandchildren here and don’t intend to spend much time sitting at the computer! With just two weeks left in the fundraising campaign for neuroendocrine (NET) cancer research, I have walked 136.56 km and raised $1595 in donations. If you’ve been following my progress, you know that I originally set 100 km as my walking/hiking goal. When I accomplished that before the middle of this month, I decided to add another 50 km to my distance. Now, with that goal in sight, I’ve decided to push myself a little bit further.

The distance by road from my front door to the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta is 177 km. That’s where I receive all my NET cancer care, so 177 km seems like a very meaningful goal to pursue. It might be a bit of a stretch, but I CAN DO IT!

I also passed my fundraising goal of $1500 in early August. It hasn’t grown a lot since then, but I would dearly love to see a few more donations come in. I’m still in the top ten fundraisers and would love to hold onto that position, but much more important is the need for funds to continue research into this unusual cancer. It will be 7 years tomorrow since I started this journey and while there’s been progress made, we still know nothing about what causes NET cancer and have a very long way to go to find better treatments and ultimately a cure.

The overall goal for the HOOFING IT Across Canada campaign is $100,000. This afternoon we’re sitting at just under $54,000, so we still have a long way to go! You can help by visiting my fundraising page and adding to my total. Thank you so much for being with me on this journey!

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HOOFED IT 100 km!

dancing-netty-zebra-net-cancer-dayThere’s no doubt that the HOOFING IT Across Canada fundraising campaign has helped give purpose to my summer; this very weird summer when a family reunion, special birthday celebration, travel, and even scattering my father’s ashes in his beloved mountains all went out the window with Covid-19.

Prior to the campaign, I set two goals for myself. Between July 1st and September 7th, I would walk or hike 100 km and raise a minimum of $1500 in donations for neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) research. I knew that I’d have no problem HOOFING IT 100 km, but I originally thought that $1000 was perhaps a more reasonable fundraising goal. My husband had other ideas. “Go big!” he urged me, so $1500 it was. This week, I accomplished both these goals! In fact, the $1500 was in the bag before I HOOFED my final kilometres today!

With a little over three weeks left in the campaign, I’m not going to quit now. Instead, I’m going to push myself to walk another 50 km and increase my fundraising goal to $2000. My total presently sits at $1570, so I’m going to need some help!

Perhaps this is a good time to explain a bit about this cancer that killed Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin, and more recently, actor Irrfan Khan, and why research funds are so badly needed. NETS is currently being diagnosed more frequently than ever before, but no one knows why or what causes it. Despite vast improvements in diagnostic techniques, it continues to be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are often vague and are also typical of hundreds of other more common diseases. As with any cancer, early diagnosis is the first step toward successful treatment and better outcomes, but patients commonly make many visits to the doctor over several years before an actual diagnosis is made. I probably had NETS for 7 to 10 years before it was detected and, of course, by that time it had spread. This is pretty typical. Thankfully neuroendocrine tumours tend to grow slowly and a person can live a long time even with advanced disease. Time equals hope; hope that new and better treatments will be found. That requires research and research requires dollars!

That’s why the Canadian neuroendocrine cancer community has collectively walked, run, hiked, biked, kayaked, canoed, and even stand-up paddleboarded over 17,000 km this summer and raised over $45,000. That falls a long way short of our $100,000 goal though.

I greatly appreciate those who have already made donations. If you haven’t and you’re able to, please visit my fundraising page here. No amount is too small!

Another HOOFING IT update

One month ago today I started counting kilometres as part of the Canadian Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (CNETS) HOOFING IT Across Canada fundraising challenge. My initial goal was to walk and/or hike 100 km and raise $1500 for NET cancer research by the time the campaign comes to an end on September 7.

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So, how am I doing?

During the month of July, I walked 70.23 km, mostly up and down the streets of our tiny town and on the walking trail around the perimeter of the golf course. When that got too boring I headed out of town and enjoyed a couple of walks in the country. Most of the time, I wear my zebra stripes when I’m walking. Our local newspaper did an article on me on July 1st, so I’m hoping that when people see me, they’ll think, “There goes that lady who’s raising money for that rare cancer that she has. I should really make a donation.”

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Thanks to 22 big-hearted donors, I’ve been able to raise $1295 so far which places me amongst the top 10 fundraisers. I’m hoping that, with the help of a few more generous people, I can meet or even surpass my goal.

For me, a NETS cancer patient living in a rural area where I’m very much on my own, being a part of this effort has definitely been a morale booster. Members of the neuroendocrine cancer community across Canada have committed to racking up as many kilometres as we can by walking, hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling, roller-blading, or any other forward moving activity that we can think of and tracking our individual distances. The results have been beyond amazing! Our original goal was 5,514 kilometres, the distance from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon. We surpassed that in less than two weeks and doubled our goal to 11,028 km, the distance across Canada and back. Would you believe that we’ve already reached that milestone? Our latest goal is 20,000 km. We’re a determined bunch and we’re going to keep criss-crossing Canada as many times as we can until the end of this campaign!

Unfortunately, we’re not doing as well in the fundraising department. So far, we’ve raised $36,399 which is admirable for a group of just 78 people, but that’s a long way from our goal of $100,000. With just five weeks left we really need to bear down and focus on finding donors to help us meet our goal so that we can continue to support critical research projects that will eventually find the answers we so desperately need; answers to what causes this disease, how to detect it earlier, how to treat it more effectively, and ultimately, how to cure it.

I hate to continue nagging, especially when times are tough for many people, but if you haven’t already made a donation, would you please consider visiting my fundraising page and giving us a much needed boost? No amount is too small.

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Walking in the rain

The past few days have been sunny and warm, just the way summer should be, but today has been mostly cool and cloudy again. I really didn’t feel like putting on my zebra stripes and going for a walk. Cancer’s a bit like that. I don’t only have it on days when I feel like it! I wake up with it every morning and I go to bed with it every night. These days, I’m not just walking because I want to. I’m walking to increase awareness of neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) and to raise funds for research.

As I walked, I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to do this. I don’t live where I’m able to attend support group meetings nor do I really feel that I need them, but I am part of several online groups for patients and caregivers. Every day I hear from people whose NETS stories are so much worse than mine. I walk for them as well as for myself. I walk in memory of those we’ve lost and I walk for those who will be diagnosed with this increasingly common type of cancer in the future. I walk in hope that money for research will eventually result in a cure.

I was walking in the exact opposite corner of our small town when it started to rain! (I think I need to find a zebra striped umbrella.) There was no way that I could suddenly transport myself back to the comfort of my warm, dry house. I had to keep walking. Cancer’s like that too. When you’re diagnosed, you suddenly find yourself a long way outside your comfort zone and there’s no going back. I treat my life with cancer a lot like a walk. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. I refuse to stand around in the rain feeling sorry for myself!

When I walk through the corridors of the cancer clinic as I’ll do again later this month, I can’t help feeling like I don’t really belong there. I look and feel so well compared to most of the people around me. It’s called “survivor’s guilt” and it’s common to those of us who have or are surviving cancer. We can’t help asking “why them?” and “why not me?” I only know that when all this started, God promised to take care of me and, while it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, He’s been doing a great job of it ever since. So here I am, feeling strong and able to HOOF IT Across Canada!

Since the campaign started on July 1, I’ve logged 12.96 kilometres. Reaching my goal of 100 km by September 7 should be no problem, but far more important is the money that I raise for NETS cancer research. As a Canada-wide community, we hope to raise $100,000. I set my personal goal at $1500 and at $550, I’m 36% of the way! Thank you so very much to those of you who have already donated. I’ll try not to bore you with too many updates! For those who haven’t donated yet and who would like to, you can find my personal fundraising page here.

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