A Leighton Buzzard woman who has had two knee replacements plans to walk non-stop for 36 hours to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK after her brother-in-law was given a terminal diagnosis.
Helen Hedge, 50, will be taking on the London2Brighton challenge on May 25 - 26, aiming to walk for 62 miles through the night without a break.
Helen’s challenge comes after her brother-in-law, Rick Ansell, was given the devastating news in December 2017 that his cancer was terminal, and now the family are determined to raise as much awareness as possible about the symptoms of the disease.
Her goal is all the more remarkable because Helen has braved not one, but two knee replacements, and is looking to push her body to its limits to help the charity.
She said: “I wish I could do it to save Rick. More needs to be done about prostate cancer.
“Rick was diagnosed two days before he and my sister were married in September 2017.
“They are both finding it really, really hard but are just taking each day as it comes.
“He’s very, very thoughtful and would move the Earth for my sister, Juanita. He idolises and loves her - there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for her.”
Rick first suspected something might be wrong when in August 2017 he went to a music festival in the village of Totternhoe, where he lives with Juanita, and picked up a leaflet about prostate cancer.
He realised that he had many of the symptoms - which he’d previously put down to age - and went to see a doctor.
But despite being diagnosed just days before their wedding, the couple went to Australia for their honeymoon, and they have neither let the terminal diagnosis stop them from seeing the world, having also been on a trip to Thailand for brave Rick.
The 57-year-old has battled through six sessions of chemotherapy, and has an implant every three months to suppress the cancer.
Rick said: “We were pretty pretty devastated when I got the diagnosis, but it’s one of these things, you have to get on with it.
“I think it’s very very commendable that Helen is doing this after all the problems she’s had with her knees.
“The money won’t help me, but it will help others.
“Juanita has been absolutely wonderful and I have two daughters, Louise and Emily who have been absolutely amazing. Everyone’s been positive.
“My grandson Rocco has been my little rock, and whenever I feel down I pick him up.
“Juanita and I have booked a hotel in Brighton with our dog, Kia, and we’re going to meet Helen somewhere near the finish line so we can be there for her.”
Rick and the family are even more impressed with Helen because of her determination to complete the walk despite her right knee.
Helen said: “I want to make a difference and get men to talk about prostate cancer.
“I’m sick of people I love being taken away by cancer.”
On April 13, from 10am, Helen will be in Leighton Buzzard Tesco, where she works, to inform shoppers about prostate cancer and sell charity merchandise.
The London2Brighton is organised by Action Challenge and Helen would also like to thank her fitness buddy Matt Bryan and physio Vanessa Hayward-Deeks for all their support with her charity mission.
Symptoms of the disease include: frequent urination, weak or interrupted urine flow or the need to strain to empty the bladder, the urge to urinate frequently at night, blood in the urine, blood in the seminal fluid, new onset of erectile dysfunction, pain or burning during urination, and discomfort or pain when sitting, caused by an enlarged prostate.
Rick added: “If this challenge encourages one person to pick up a leaflet or one person go to the doctors, it will have been worth it.”
Her employer has agreed to add 20% of what she raises to Prostate Cancer UK.