Trekking across Europe is a dream for most Australians! But my sister, Sue McGann and I have turned those dreams into reality – a global journey for a worthy cause!
Our family has tragically lost many loved ones from the dreaded disease – cancer! We have lost two brothers and two brothers-in-law, and now another brother and his son are fighting this dreaded disease.
In true fighting spirit, we took up walking to raise funds for cancer. We have walked in Ireland, England, France, Portugal, Japan and Australia. Quite by accident, whilst googling I came across the Via Francigena and was instantly smitten. I knew I had to do it!
In 2017, I set off, all alone – just me and my backpack, along the Pilgrim’s Way from Salisbury to Canterbury in England. I became a pilgrim of old and began my journey on foot to Rome. I will never forget how it felt when Canon Clare gave me the Pilgrim’s blessing in front of the Pilgrim’s altar in Canterbury Cathedral. And before I knew it, I was heading along the Pilgrim’s Way again bound for France.
Walking across France, all alone, was an intimidating thought. I only knew a handful of French words from the school days. And here I was about to walk 1100 km by myself to Besançon near the Swiss border. I was blessed with a mixture of joys and sorrows as I made my way across France. I gradually began to understand French culture, I lost my way many times, and I met amazing people. You can read about my adventures in my book ‘In the Footsteps of Pilgrims Past’ available through Amazon. Finally, I made it to Besançon in November as the cold was setting in and I really dreaded taking up the journey again.
In early 2018 I decided to keep walking. My heart was set on fund raising for cancer. Common sense prevailed and I sought help from Via Francigena Tours to guide my footsteps through to Grand-St-Bernard Pass. And there I was, all set up for the big walk with my sister, Sue. Then, one day, early in March, I came down with a bad chest infection, and further tests revealed that I, too, had the dreaded disease – thyroid cancer!
I am a very determined person, and I am not only going to fight this disease, I will continue to walk and raise funds to help others fight the disease. In late August we leave from Besançon and arrive in Grand-St-Bernard Pass in mid-September. It will be a great pleasure to walk the Via Francigena across Switzerland, but we also hope that our dream of walking to help find a cure for cancer will be realised. Please use the links to donate or follow our walk!