At this time last year, I was making a fresh start. I believed that 2021 would be the year when we would finally say goodbye to a period that completely turned the country upside down. I was wrong – in more ways than one – and by the end of June, the bottom had fallen from my world.
My husband, Andy, a fit and healthy man who loved walking in the hills and walked the hills every day, started to feel bad, suffering from shoulder pain. Innocently, we thought it was nothing more than a frozen shoulder. When a few acupuncture sessions had no effect, he went to see the GP. More and more tests were ordered until one day we found ourselves in a small consulting room no bigger than a broom closet at Carlisle Hospital. “It’s not easy for me to tell you,” the consultant said, leaning forward in his chair. “You have an aggressive form of cancer…and it’s terminal. Go home, write your will and live your life.
That was it. The news no one wants. We were speechless. From that day on, Andy’s health deteriorated rapidly. But even with the diagnosis that he only had weeks to live, Andy was determined to fight for life until the end – and to fight for my life beyond his death.
In 2008, at the age of 47, I was diagnosed with spinal degeneration and became a wheelchair user. It was only with Andy’s support that I ended up getting back to the hills I loved – riding where others walked. Since then, I have campaigned for a more accessible British countryside.