Audit Client the Outboard Boating Club of Auckland‘s Finance Manager Elaine Holmes recently returned from a trip to China. Here she shares with us her inspiring and challenging story.
In September 2014 I received an email that would change my life.
This email was an invitation to walk the Great Wall of China for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation the following September. I knew immediately that I was meant to do this. In 2015 I would be, and am, 5 years cancer free. Also September 2015 would mark the 15th anniversary of my Mum’s death from breast cancer.
Not only would this trip honour my mother by commemorating her passing, it would I felt, be a truly great way to raise the awareness of breast cancer and more importantly its early detection.
Part of this challenge was to raise a minimum donation of $3,500 for New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. I felt that this was a way that I could pay forward the incredible support that I received during the 12 months of my treatment.
Asking people for donations always puts me out of my comfort zone but I was constantly humbled by the generosity and support of so many people, including but not limited to UHY Haines Norton, who generously pledged a donation.
Finally after a year of preparation and anticipation, Saturday 5th September arrived and my adventure started! Thirteen women met at Auckland Airport to board the flight to Singapore where we would meet the four women from the South Island. We arrived in Beijing on Sunday morning to beautiful blue skies and temperatures of 29 degrees. The first two days in Beijing were spent getting to know each other, sightseeing and being constantly amazed with our incredible surroundings.
Tuesday morning we were a-buzz with excitement as we boarded our bus to travel several hours to the starting point of the Wall. The walk was steps and more steps!
If we thought this was hard we were in for a shock. The rough terrain we would travel over in the next couple of days would see us on sections of the Wall completely unrestored and in some places unsafe for walking. This occasionally forced us off the Wall, where we would have to continue by using bush tracks along ridges, down valleys and then, of course, up the other side before we could re-join the Wall.
By far the most physically challenging day was day three where we covered just 6kms, but it took us five and half hours. The terrain was steep: steep paths, steep stairs, stairs that were so narrow literally the best way up was on your hands and knees. Now for someone like me who suffers from vertigo this was a real challenge. But each section conquered ended with the reward of breath-taking scenery.
The final amazing day dawned with such mixed emotions, a huge sense of achievement that we had conquered this stunning wonder of the world and a very real sadness that our time here was nearly over.
The last day’s walk was straight up for about an hour. At the top we rested and reflected on all the things this journey had meant to us, many tears were shed; lots of hugs shared then the steep descent began to end this fantastic journey, and what a journey it had been.
Elaine Holmes’ group of five breast cancer survivors and 12 supporters ranged in age from 24 – 69 years old. As a group they raised an incredible $126,000 for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. Our sincere congratulations go to everyone involved in this amazing journey, and special thanks to Elaine for sharing her story with us.