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I Would Walk 813 Miles across the UK for PCRF

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My name is Josie Bennett and I am doing a 813mi/1308km thru-hike from the UK's northernmost point (John o' Groats) down to the southernmost point (Land's End) in Cornwall to raise funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund in memory of my grandmother, Pat Bennett who died from pancreatic cancer in 2017.

Those who know me well will know that the main reason I decided to switch to a geology degree was because of my nan, she gave me the confidence to take that first step and now I shall be walking over 1.72 million steps in her name this June before I graduate from my MSci geology undergraduate degree in July.

Nanny Pat was a brilliant woman, she cared so much about relating to her grandchildren that she bought a PlayStation 2 to play videogames with us, she got hooked and so did we!
Nan was there for me whenever things at home were tough, she would hug me tight, offer a glass of Ribena squash, her best biscuits, and then we would chew the fat about what had happened.
For us grandkids, we loved her cheeky conspirational smile when we were caught chopping off a Barbie doll's hair, her loving faux passive-aggressive shoving of a tenner into your palm when you were going home, line dancing in the kitchen at Halloween, the haircuts, neverending cups of tea, the smell of Wella hairspray in freshly feathered hair, the best pancakes, and the infinite amount of pride she had for us all.

That was my nan until late 2016.
She had been complaining about abdominal and back pain for months, her GP wrote it off as nothing serious.
One evening I was writing a uni essay when I was suddenly shaken to my core, I received a call from my parents telling me that nan had been admitted to the hospital for tests after suddenly experiencing worsening health issues and jaundice.

I couldn't breathe when the tests came back. It was pancreatic cancer.

The next five months were a whirlwind, one minute my nan was her usual jolly self, and then she was suddenly bedbound and deteriorating. It was hard, it was hard seeing someone you love dearly suddenly crumbling away like a coastal chalk cliff, losing their independence and joy for life. It made me truly realise how fickle everything is, and how unhappy I was with the choices I had made up until that point.

During one of our final conversations before she passed away that May, I told my nan that I was miserable studying sociology despite getting excellent grades and that attending the uni rock climbing club made me realise that I was actually very passionate about geology to the point in which I fancied switching degrees.
But I was nervous about doing it, what would everyone say? They would be so ashamed of me for leaving a prestigious university.
Nan squeezed my hand in a vice-like grip before nearly shouting "Bloody go for it and to hell with what anyone thinks! Don't you dare do something that makes you miserable you hear me?! I want you to do what brings you the most joy! Please, promise you'll do that for yourself and for me?".
Of course I agreed, and so here I am seven years later, a grown woman trying her best to fulfill that promise by doing something I love to raise money for a worthy cause.

So, why the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund?
The Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund is the only national charity dedicated solely to beating pancreatic cancer through research. Survival rates are low at 3% for the last 40 years without any change, so new research is vital. In the past, this cancer received little attention and only receives less than 2% of national spending from the government for research expenses allocated to cancer research. With your help, we can change this so more people can beat pancreatic cancer and so that screening is more accessible and effective for detecting early stage pancreatic cancer so that people like my nan have a better fighting chance.

30% of the funds raised will be used to cover the travel costs for a train ticket to John o' Grotes and some of the equipment and food expenses, the rest will be donated to PCFR.

Thank you for reading!


Josie Bennett

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