Leighton woman ‘shows you can beat a terminal cancer diagnosis’

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It may have looked like great fun but a fancy dress 26-mile hike had a serious side – raising money for the hospital that saved thewalk organiser’s life.

Leighton Buzzard’s Anna Conquest says her story can give hope to others that you canbeat cancer despite a terminal diagnosis.

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The 50-year-old, of Warneford Road, Billington Park, was told she had liver cancer and was given two months to live in June 2014.

But it turned out to a very rare form of bile duct cancer, and after a touch-and-go operation where she technically ‘died twice’, carried out by specialists at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, Anna is alive to tell the tale.

And to say thank you to the hospital, Anna arranged the sponsored walk on Saturday, April 30 along the Grand Union Canal from the Blisworth Tunnel in Northamptonshire to Linslade’s Globe Inn.

Aiming for £7,500, she’s confident she’ll smash the £10,000 barrier when the total collected is finalised.

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In total, 35 walkers, two first aiders and seven other volunteers (providing water and encouragement) took part in the challenge – with Anna dressed as a Rubik’s Cube, husband Andy as Top Gun’s Maverick, plus Fred Flintstone, Superman, Elvis, St George and Bumblebees thrown in for good measure.

Anna said: “The majority of us were attired in all sorts of fancy dress outfits with signage promoting our cause.

“The first 12 miles were relatively easy, as we were all giggling about our outfits and walking on adrenalin.

“The route was beautiful and the weather was very kind to us. But by mile 14 it was beginning to get tough as we knew we had a long way to go. When we arrived at The Plough Milton Keynes I knew that we could finish as there was only 2.5 hours of walking to go. But then the weather took a turn for the worst and it started to sleet and rain which made it cold and unpleasant.

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“Fortunately that soon passed and out the sun came. And then I found a real spring in my step and that last 45 minutes from the Three Locks to the Globe became good fun again.

“The response along the way from the canal users both moored and travelling was brilliant and the reception back at The Globe was out of this world.

“Loads of family and friends were waiting for our arrival and a huge cheer when we came around the bridge.

“It was truly an amazing experiencing. At this point I awarded the medals donated by Jim Snee and the fancy dress prizes donated by myself.

“First place was Steve Kewell who won 1st prize dressed as Tango Man and Mitch Micans won second prize dressed as a Ladybird.

“It has been truly humbling for me the support that I have had with everyone that has took part in this event to raise money for the Churchill and raise awareness that you can beat cancer despite a terminal diagnosis and I hope that my story helps other cancer sufferers that are beginning their journey.

“As of today’s date we have raised on the just giving site £8,200 over achieving our £7,500 target, but we still have offline donations to collect and I know that we will exceed in excess over £10k.

“I would like to thank everyone that took part, walkers, volunteers, first aiders, supporters and everyone that has kindly donated.”

To support Anna visit http:www.justgiving.com and enter CONQUEST2 in the search field.