A woman from Blackheath is spearheading a huge virtual walking and fundraising challenge, inspired by a close friend, who is being treated for breast cancer.
Heather Lawson’s friend Leeanne Adu from Catford was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer just before Christmas at the age of just 35. Money is being raised through the virtual walking challenge for grant-making breast cancer charity Walk the Walk.
In February 2020, Heather travelled to the Arctic Circle with a group of 13 women and men to backcountry ski a marathon for Walk the Walk – best known as the organisers of the iconic MoonWalk London. Lifelong friendships were formed, as the group skied 26 miles on virgin Arctic Circle snow. Many of the group already had a close link to breast cancer – one had lost his wife to the disease, others had been diagnosed themselves or been touched by breast cancer in some way.
During 2020’s Covid-19 restrictions, the friendships grew – the group walked to keep fit, covering the virtual distance between all their homes last summer.
Just before Christmas, three members of the group – including Heather – discovered that close friends, all of them young, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Inspired to support their friends, a new and much bigger virtual walking challenge was born, for the group to walk the 3,492 miles from London to Rousseau in Canada, from where one of the group originally hails. The current collective total walked is 2,196 miles, with the group aiming to raise £1,000 for Walk the Walk.
Heather Lawson is coordinating the virtual challenge and collating mileage totals each week. She said:
Our trip to the Arctic last year was so special – bonds were made which will last a lifetime! We’ve all kept in close touch and one day I was ranting in our WhatsApp group about my friend Leanne’s breast cancer diagnosis, just a week after her little girl turned three. One of the group then shared that her oldest friend from school had been diagnosed – followed by someone else telling us that her friend, a single Mum of two, was also being treated for breast cancer. We had to do something! We’re delighted to be raising vital funds for Walk the Walk, which is supporting frontline cancer charities with Emergency Grants during the pandemic. And on top of that, taking on our virtual walking challenge from London to Canada is helping the whole group keep fit and active, by making us walk as much as possible!
Leeanne Adu is currently undergoing chemotherapy, having been diagnosed with breast cancer just before Christmas. She said:
Heather is amazing and simply inspirational. Every time she sets herself a challenge – it’s always a big one! This virtual walk is just the same and I’m so grateful that Heather is doing this. It’s incredible that she’s raising money and making such a difference for Walk the Walk – all because of what I’m going through with my breast cancer. I’m relieved that I was diagnosed relatively early – my prognosis is good and I’m looking forward to the future, once I’m through my treatment. Body awareness is so important and when I discovered the lump in my breast, I knew instinctively that it was something which wasn’t there before. I’d encourage women and men of all ages to check their breasts regularly and be “handsy” with their boobs, as I call it! Also – don’t think that because you’re younger, it won’t affect you – it can. If you do find something unusual – get it checked out as soon as possible.
To find out more about breast cancer charity Walk the Walk, go to http://www.walkthewalk.org.
Image credit: Heather Lawson (2nd row from back, 2nd from left) with fellow fundraisers at Walk the Walk’s Arctic Challenge