Heather puts best foot forward for hospice which supported her
A young cancer fighter who received support from St Catherine’s Hospice during one of the toughest periods of her life is now set to take part in the Moonlight and Memories Walk to raise vital funds for the charity.
Heather Parkinson, aged 32, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was just 19. She is currently back at work running Kirkham Pet Centre and is excited about the challenge of completing the eight-mile sponsored walk on Saturday June 6 in aid of the Lostock Hall hospice.
But back in 2009 – before a pioneering drug treatment trial and subsequent stem cell transplant from her older sister Shelley Watson – Heather was extremely poorly, having been re-diagnosed following several years in remission from the disease.
She was referred to day therapy at St Catherine’s which she attended each week during her gruelling treatment, which also included chemotherapy.
Heather, from Leyland, said she used to look forward to the weekly sessions as a welcome distraction – and now wants to ‘do her bit’ to raise funds to support the place which looked after her so well.
“I really was very poorly at that time,” she said. “I couldn’t work or drive, the treatments had made me lose my hair and I was tired a lot of the time, especially after the transplant. My immunity shot right down.
“Coming to the hospice each week was something I looked forward to, I loved it from the first day. I made some wonderful friends and I got to take part in things that took my mind off everything that was going on. I remember being in the art room, making little gifts for people at Christmas, or playing on the Wii Fit with one of the volunteers.
“It was great to know there was always someone there to talk to. If I needed a rant or a cry, to get something off my chest, the nurses would be there, and so would the others attending the session. It can be very isolating being ill, but they could empathise with what you were going through, you knew you weren’t on your own.”
Although Heather has just begun a course of chemotherapy and will undergo another transplant imminently after signs of the cancer returned, she is determined to take part in the extra special 30th anniversary Moonlight and Memories Walk. She will take part with her mum Sheila, walking in memory of her dad Ernie, who died when she was just 12.
For the first time this year, the event will start and finish from the hospice in Lostock Hall and also features a 16-mile route which – at three miles longer than previous years – includes an extra mile for each decade the hospice has been open.
The hospice is aiming to attract 1,000 walkers – their target in the 30th anniversary Give A Gift campaign, which lists 30 different ways individuals, schools and businesses can show their support during 2015.
It will be the second time Heather has completed the event – having also taken part last year.
“It was a fantastic night,” she said. “The time flies by as you’re having such a good time and there’s such a brilliant atmosphere. I’d encourage everyone to get involved and give it a go!
“I still get tired and the walk will certainly be a challenge, but I’m determined to do it for such a special place.”
To join Heather at the Moonlight and Memories Walk on Saturday June 6 visit www.stcatherines.co.uk or call 01772 629171. Registration is £16 for adults and £10 for children.
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