A WESTBURY woman has raised £4,152 for the breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel after she trekked 110km across the Sahara desert!
Tess Rugg says she was inspired to take on the challenge following one of her friends being diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 25. Tess was joined by 129 other trekkers who helped raise £630,000 in total for the charity that focusses on creating awareness for breast cancer within young people.
“I like to think we helped reach a lot of people too, to ensure that they check their chest on a regular basis as this is such an important issue,” said Tess. Tess was joined by some famous faces on her journey- Giovanna Fletcher, Vicky Pattison, Pete Wicks and Dr. Emeka Okorocha.
Tess added, “I met the most incredible people, some of which had only finished their chemotherapy recently, others who had lost loved ones to cancer. But we were all there for each other and helped each other through the tough times. I have made friends for life.
“It was roughly six days of walking in the end; we started the trek with a ten-hour bus journey followed by a 10km walk to the first camp which was a nice little ease into it. The next day was 26km through the desert plains, across farmland through the blazing sun. Many people got some terrible blisters from this, but I was lucky enough to not get any at all due to strapping my feet with sports tape beforehand.
“The following day we walked another 26km. This started through the sand dunes, which was very tough and a bit scary as we knew the support vehicle wouldn’t be able to reach us if anything happened. Once we were on the other side we had lunch, and then one of the toughest stretches mentally in which we walked across a flat plateau and could see camp for four hours without it getting any closer. A lot of people got very mentally drained by this; I kept on having to look behind me to see the dunes from earlier get smaller just as a reference point.
“The next day (approx. 23km) was my hardest day, as we had a 15km walk before lunch, followed by climbing over a mountain. As well as it being a very steep uphill climb, it was covered in sand so every step you took felt like you weren’t going anywhere. When we reached the top, I cried and didn’t really stop crying all evening. I had feelings of pride in myself, missing my family, and being utterly exhausted. Thankfully there was pasta for dinner that night which helped!
“The next day we did a 20km loop from camp, and when we returned, we went through the finish line and received our medals. It was such an emotional trek, as well as physically exhausting, especially hearing everyone’s stories about why they were there.
“The last day was another 10km to the buses, which by that point felt like a small stroll! Funnily enough the things I thought would be difficult (wild weeing with nowhere to hide, going to the toilet in a communal camp) ended up being totally fine – mainly due to everyone being very friendly and approaching everything with a lot of humour.
“The team captains were all lovely – Giovanna Fletcher, Kelsey Parker, Pete Wicks, Vicky Pattinson, Dr Emeka and Candice Brown. They clearly cared very much about everyone’s wellbeing.”