A dialysis patient from Powys is set to participate in this year’s 42-mile Across WalesWalk as she seeks to prove that there is life after a chronic kidney disease diagnosis.
Becky Jane Carroll-Lees, 37, of Caersws is preparing to take on the challenge as she bids to raise awareness and funding for the charity Kidney Wales.
The gruelling journey sees participants walk continuously for 15 hours or more – starting in the early morning darkness and finishing after sun-down, with no significant rest periods in between.
The walk is organised by the Rotary Clubs of Newtown, Llanidloes and Machynlleth, who have dedicated this year’s walk to raising funds for Kidney Wales, thanks in part to the involvement of Becky Jane’s neighbour John Evans, who is chairman of the walk’s organising committee.
The Across Wales Walk will be given one-off Walk for Lifestatus by Kidney Wales, in recognition of the organisers’ decision to support the charity.
Becky Jane has chosen to participate in the walk as a direct result of her life-changing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) diagnosis in 2016.
Unable to receive a transplant due to negative reactions to immunosuppressants, the medicines that lower the body’s ability to reject a transplanted organ, Becky Jane has had to face up to the challenge of regular bouts of dialysis to combat the effects of the disease.
Discussing the impact that dialysis has had on her life, she said:
“I was not prepared for the exhausting effect that my treatment would have on me. The support of charitable organisations has been so important as it has helped me to build up friendships with people who have encountered similar issues to my own and understand what I am going through.
“Talking to people helped me realise my life wasn’t over and that I can still lead a rich life.
“Kidney Wales plays a huge part in giving people the chance to live normal lives again. Some of the dialysis machines on our ward are paid for with funds raised by doing events yet there still aren’t enough, so being able to support the charity is very important to me.”
Her passion for helping others facing similar situations to her own is a significant motivating factor for Becky Jane, despite the significant physical tole that her illness and treatment have taken.
The walk will be an all-family affair with husband Malcolm to join her every step of the way while ten-year-old daughter Chloe Jane will help at one of the walk’s food stations before joining her parents for the last eight miles of the venture.
Discussing her personal journey to participation in the event, Becky Jane said:
“Last year I was struggling to walk on the best of days, and therefore I only did the last eight miles of this challenge.
“It was obvious that it would have been dangerous for me to try the whole 42 miles at that point, so I’m definitely looking forward to this year.”
Previously a professional carer, Becky Jane is still committed to helping others despite the context of her own challenges. On her charitable activities, she said: “I’m proud to be taking part in the Across Wales Walk this year. It’s always been important to me to challenge myself and to keep fit and healthy. It’s also important to me that my kids can see me dealing with things in a positive way.
“Life threw Chronic Kidney Disease at me and in that short time afterwards we have raised awareness and money for charity, I am also participating in two research trials and have agreed that once I am dialysing at home, I will come in and help talk to people considering similar paths to show them what it is like.”
Once she has completed the walk, Becky Jane has her eye on celebrating with a well-deserved holiday in Crete with her family, among many exciting plans she has in place for the rest of 2018.
The 55th Across Wales Walk which will take place on 23rdJune. Anybody interested in joining Becky Jane and the numerous other individuals that will be taking part on the walk can join up at http://www.acrosswaleswalk.co.uk/ ahead of the 15thJune deadline.