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Karen’s mountain top adventure to say thank you to her hospice heroes

16 July, 2020

Karen’s mountain top adventure to say thank you to her hospice heroes

A local family have completed an epic adventure to raise funds and say thank you to the team at St Oswald’s, for caring for their little girl, Willow.

Karen Diamond from Hebburn got together with friends and family to trek to the top of Scafell Pike in Cumbria on Saturday 11th July. Karen’s 15 month old daughter, Willow, receives treatment for her Lymphoedema at St Oswald’s Outpatient clinic. Our team have supported Willow and her family since she was first referred to our Lymphoedema team at just two months old. Karen explains:

“Willow receives treatment at St Oswald’s due to her having Lymphoedema as a symptom of her rare genetic condition, PIK3CA Related overgrowth syndrome.

“Our experience of St Oswald's has been fantastic we couldn't have asked for better people looking after Willow. Her nurses, Jill and Kath, are superheroes without capes!

“We wanted to do something to raise money for the hospice and had initially planned to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, but due to the current pandemic restrictions we were forced to either wait or choose another peak to climb. Knowing that the Hospice needs all the support they can get in these unprecedented times, I chose to move the climb to the highest mountain in England which is Scafell Pike. We climbed on Saturday 11th of July and my legs haven't been the same since. For someone who only walks to the shop for wine it was certainly a challenge!”

Karen was joined by husband Kris, her uncle and cousin Harvey. Handily, her neighbour Graham is in the army and is a mountain ranger, and he offered to accompany Karen and her family, along with fellow servicemen Fish, Mickey and Craig. Fish even brought his dog Cooper to join in the adventure!

Karen continues:

“During the climb, we actually took a wrong turn on the ascent using the corridor route which took the difficulty level up a notch. We found ourselves scrambling across waterfalls, sliding down sheer rock faces and had a hefty hands and knees scramble to the top.  I remember clinging to the side of the mountain about 50 meters from the top, crying thinking I was a goner! But I had amazing people with me, pushing me on, and I couldn’t have done it without them all.

“Reaching the top was the biggest mental and physical achievement in my life, which was celebrated by the 8 of us enjoying a small bottle of prosecco.”

The team took nine hours to complete their challenge, climbing 978 meters and racking up over 40,000 steps. They are very close to reaching their £2,000 fundraising target, which they have decided to split between St Oswald’s and LSN (Lymphoedema Support Network), who also provide support to Willow and her family.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I wasn't going to complete this challenge. Jill, Kath and St Oswald’s haven't given up on finding ways to help Willow so how could I give up on helping them?

“Willow is currently waiting to go to GOSH for treatment for her condition and has received support throughout lockdown from her nurses for persistent cellulitis but remains as strong as ever… our little Wonder Willow.

“We will continue to get involved in St Oswald’s events and challenges to help raise money for this local charity, as we really want to show our support and gratitude… I just hope it’s nothing to do with a mountain next time!”

A massive thank you to Karen and her friends and family for supporting us in this way. The money they have raised together will make a big difference to the hospice at a difficult time and allow us to continue being there for patients just like Willow, who benefit from the services we offer.

You can make a donation to Karen’s fundraising page for St Oswald’s and LSN here.