Paula Morgan: Action Cancer Trekker Profile

07 January 2019

It’s fair to say that 2018 was a big year for Paula Morgan, 54 from Limavady, not only was she declared cancer-free but she also conquered the Great Wall of China for Action Cancer raising over £4,000 in the process. Her story is one of triumph over challenge and provides an inspirational example of the tenacity of the human spirit.

“On 1st November 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 53 years old. I’ve always been fit and active, I take part in triathlons, and never had any major health complaints so the diagnosis came as a big shock for everyone in my family but I just decided that cancer would not define me. I was determined to beat it and that’s exactly what I did.” 

In February 2018, while undergoing cancer treatment, Paula signed up to trek the Great Wall of China for Action Cancer because, for her, one challenge is never enough.

“It was a billboard advert for the China Trek that caught the eye of my friend Gillian and I and after speaking to the Action Cancer Fundraising Team about the challenge and the support they could offer us, we signed up. We were both battling health challenges but we were determined and the trek gave us something to focus on. I honestly think that having the goal of completing the Great Wall of China Trek was what I needed to get through my cancer treatment.”

Paula travelled to China with a group of 34 other Action Cancer fundraisers in October 2018 and over the course of 9 days trekked 75km along one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“The China Trek was not at all what we had envisaged; it was so real and raw. We were out in rural China, there were no tourists so we had it all to ourselves – we were so lucky!

“The whole experience was just brilliant from start to finish. I met some fantastic people and together we made some amazing memories. It was an incredible experience. It made me appreciate the simple things in life, those things that we often take for granted - the homes we live in, central heating, hot showers, clean streets – and it made me more determined to keep living life to the full.”

The penultimate day of the China Trek saw participants tackle a section of the Great Wall known as The Heavenly Ladder, which entails a climb of over 1,500 steps at a 45 degree angle ascent. Despite the physical challenge Paula has fond memories of the day;

“The Heavenly Ladder was a real stand out moment for me. It was incredibly steep. I stopped at least 100 times on the way to the top but I got there. We all got there. It was an incredible feeling because everyone was so supportive. People from our group cheered me along and people from other groups stood at the top cheering too. There was such an amazing sense of community, a powerful reminder that there is always help and support when you need it. It was a very special moment and one which I’ll always treasure.”

Action Cancer is currently recruiting participants to their Cambodia Trek to Angkor Wat which takes place from 16th – 24th November 2019. The minimum sponsorship required to participate in this trek is £3,800 per person which is more than achievable as Paula explains;

“I hadn’t much experience of fundraising before so when I first signed up for the China Trek I was a bit daunted by the fundraising target. When I thought about where the money goes and the services that Action Cancer offers, and the help I’d received along my cancer journey, I knew that I had to set aside any fears or worries and just focus on doing what I could because the money goes to such a brilliant cause. I set up my JustGiving page and started doing street collections and I realised how easy fundraising actually is. People are so generous when it comes to cancer, because it affects everyone in some way.”

Action Cancer is hosting an Information Night on Thursday 31st January at 7.30pm in Action Cancer House, in Belfast, for anyone interested in finding out more about the 2019 Cambodia Trek and the challenge it offers participants.

“I love a challenge so I will definitely do another trek for Action Cancer. I would really encourage everyone to consider trekking for Acton Cancer for it really is a life-changing experience.

 “I hope that my story, my cancer journey and my experience on the China Trek will help to raise awareness of how Action Cancer can help local people affected by cancer.

“I’ve always been a strong willed person but the fact that I was able to complete the trek within one year of my diagnosis proved to me that anything is possible and that feeling in itself is a gift.”

To find out more about Action Cancer’s 2019 Cambodia Trek to Angkor Wat, contact Action Cancer’s Fundraising Team by emailing [email protected] or calling 028 9080 3344.