Kate G
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Diary of a "Fake" Cancer Patient - a Leap of Faith

Kate G
Posted by
05 Jul 2015

It’s been rather a long time since my last blog, but one of the things that I did blog about earlier this year was that I was planning to face my fears in a very big way, for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, & I did just that yesterday! The event was a Zipwire challenge off Newport Transporter Bridge, & I took part with 2 good friends & a host of others who were supporting LLR or other charities including Velindre Cancer Unit. In truth, when I signed up for said event, I had just had a month off alcohol to raise money for Cancer Research & after a glass (or two) of red wine, was sufficiently bolstered to think that this was a good idea, despite my massive fear of heights. It’s very true what they say about dutch courage & it really didn’t help that July seemed so very far away that in my slightly woozy state, I didn’t realistically think it was ever going to arrive.

Unfortunately for me, this year has absolutely flown by, which is one of the reasons that I haven’t blogged much, but I have also taken part in some other activities for LLR, including a focus group about the name change to Bloodwise & the associated autumn awareness campaign. Look out for this by the way, it’s going to be amazing!!

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago, reality hit with a bang & I started to feel a bit sick about the prospect of this challenge so rather than opening an online donation page before the event, which is the usual practise, I decided to hang fire until after simply because if I bottled it, I would have felt honour bound to refund all those who had donated & I collected pledges only. As the days went on, & if I drove past the bridge, I became a bundle of nerves, & it really wasn’t helped by a work friend showing me youtube footage of someone doing exactly the same challenge last year! On Friday I asked another friend to come with me to the bridge at lunchtime so I could see exactly what I would be getting myself into & they refused, which in hindsight was a good call because nothing could have prepared me with how I felt when I stood underneath the Transporter Bridge at lunchtime yesterday. I always though it looked high but this was like something out of my worst nightmares !!!

We arrived at the field & went to the LLR stand to see both Rachael & Claire & met up with some fellow supporters who had done the zipwire earlier on. I was marginally encouraged by the fact that they said it was ok until they told me that I would have to climb over a barrier before I went off the edge because in my head, barriers are there for a reason .... The other thing that really started to get me worried was the speed of descent of each slider & after a while I started to feel sicker & sicker. Interestingly, & as I write this piece, I’m feeling nervous again, as I recall how I felt just over 24 hours ago.

At just after 1.00pm, they called us all forward, to sign an indemnity & got us kitted up. Not sure precisely how bad I must have looked at this point but I did notice that whilst they joked with everyone else about “not having dropped anyone for ages“ etc – they took one look at my face & tried to be very reassuring ! Some friends arrived to support at this stage & I was struggling to speak because I was so close to tears & my brother pointed out that breathing slowly might help (but more on that later) !

After what seemed like an age everyone was ready & we started to walk towards the bridge. I hugged my son & family & slowly walked towards the steps. I couldn’t get over how jovial & excited everyone seemed – all I could think of was how my legs felt like lead & my heart was beating so fast I honestly thought it was going to pop out of my chest & we hadn’t even started climbing yet !! The 11 flights of stairs were very hard going & I even said to my team-mates to go on past me because I’m sure I was hyperventilating. I just tried to look straight ahead because I was too terrified to look down. Did I mention the wind was very strong too? It was howling through the bridge & I had to stop several times as we climbed those never-ending stairs .....

Finally, we got to the top & I collapsed on the floor, trying to get my heart rate down & to quell the sense of panic that engulfed me. We had a briefing which included instructions about where to place our hands as we approached the bottom but it all seemed far too much to remember & I think at that point I just hoped that if I shut my eyes it would all go away. We were then called one at a time to the launch point – they checked the straps of the first person to go which seemed to take ages & they connected & re-connected the device that attached her to the wire whilst she stood on a raised platform with a barrier in front of her, looking down 150 ft to the ground. Once the safety checks were complete, she had to climb over the barrier & sit on it before she “launched” & at this point I was ready to do the “walk of shame” & leave! Finally it was my turn & I knew that if I had any opportunity to pause for breath, I would not do it, so I stepped up, holding on for dear life to the metal frame in front of me. When they asked me to put one leg over the barrier I clung to the people from the zip company & asked them not to let me go – I cannot truly describe how terrified I was as I looked across & down (but it will remain in my nightmares) especially when they asked to move myself forward a bit before I left the platform. At long last, I sat on top of the barrier, they counted down, gave me a nudge & I was off!!

I don’t remember screaming but the video shows otherwise & it was very very fast & bumpier than I thought it would be.. As I hit the brake point, my helmet tried to dislodge & all I could think was that I couldn’t remember what I had to do with my arms & suddenly I was at the tower, & I could hear cheering. My legs were like jelly & I just wanted to hug my son, who I have since discovered was very worried about me doing this, & all I could think was that I hoped he was proud of me because he knew how terrified I was.

As I climbed down from the tower, I looked back up, & the enormity of my achievement really hit me because I honestly didn’t think I would be able to do it. In all honesty, the only reason that I went through with it on the day, was because I was able to relinquish control & place it entirely in the hands of the professionals who ran the event & in whom I had total trust. That’s actually quite a good analogy for my life as a cancer patient since I place an enormous amount of faith & trust in the medical professionals who look after me & who will make life-changing decisions about my health such as when I require treatment & which treatments to use, & as a control freak, for once, yesterday, it was quite reassuring to see that I could allow others to take responsibility for my wellbeing & that I was prepared to take that leap of faith.

In the meantime however, I will follow the unwritten rules of not surfing the net when I’ve had a few glasses of wine, in case I sign up to anything else, as that was a once in a lifetime challenge. I said to Rachael & Claire from LLR that I will speak at any event, any size but I will never repeat that particular challenge ...



Kate, you were brilliant. Your face was a picture when you started walking towards the bridge. We could definitely hear you before we could see you on the way down! 

You know you say it was a once in a lifetime challenge... well Claire & I forgot to mention that we've signed you up to do that really fast, really long zip wire in north Wales! ;-)





Rach don't even joke about that I am still having nightmares .... The great news is that sponsorship is already just under £300.00 with quite a lot more to come in so definitely worth it ! xxx


Kate, I'm so, so proud of you for tackling your fears head on and going through with the zip wire. Phenomenal effort, well done!

Reading your blog reminded me of similar fears when I did a sky dive many years ago. Whilst not something I'm keen on repeating any time soon it remains one of my proudest achievements in life as I really didn't think I'd be able to go through with it on the day.

We're so lucky to have you as one of our supporters and you're a real inspiration to all watch and wait patients. Keep doing what you're doing!


Kate - I could feel every one of your emotions reading your blog - and I am sooooo pleased that you managed to conquer your fears and do it! Amazing effort - and thank you so much for your continued to support to beat blood cancer! 


Thanks so much for your kind words Andy - a quick update, as at 1.30 today, donations & pledges are over £500.00 which is double my original target - I am absolutely gobsmacked at the generosity of family & friends !!!

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