This time two years ago I was on holiday following my post-radiotherapy check-up. I was feeling encouraged by a positive appointment and had booked a few days in the Yorkshire Dales at a HF Holidays house. I opted to do my own thing rather than book on the guided walks because I knew that I wouldn't be up to a whole day of walking. This turned out to be a wise decision because not only did I tire after a short distance but my rucksack pulled on the surgery scar. However, it was no trouble to amuse myself in such a beautiful area and being back at the house before everyone else meant that I had the swimming pool to myself!
It was a bit frustrating not being able to do a decent walk because walking has been something I have always enjoyed, but I reminded myself that it was early days yet. Sure enough, as time went on I was able to build up to some shortish walks and the 7 mile walk I did with a friend that autumn was a great encouragement. But then I seemed to get stuck. Anything over 8 miles left me struggling and totally exhausted for the next few days. Until Monday.
On Monday, with sunny but not hot weather I took a look at the local OS Explorer map and planned a route that gave me several options along the way. Then I packed my rucksack (a better one these days!) and set off over the footpaths and green lanes around the local farmland and villages. I took it at a steady pace with plenty of stops to admire the butterflies and take the odd photograph or two.
By lunchtime I was still feeling fine and, looking at the map, I decided that I might even manage the extended version of the walk. Refreshed by the picnic I set off again and did indeed extend it, putting in a few extra miles and being rewarded by crossing a field with sheep and lambs who were unusually curious and didn't just run off as I approached.
Back home I looked at the map again and calculated how far I'd walked - just over 11.5 miles. Further by a good deal than I have managed in the last couple of years. Yes, I was very tired that night and was in bed early not only on Monday but also on Tuesday, and no, it is still nowhere near what I would have done before cancer, but it was very satisfying and encouraging.
Fatigue is still an issue for me and I can't dash from one thing to another the way I used to, but I know that I have come a long way since I struggled to do a few miles in the Dales two years ago.