Cancer survivor walking the length of the country

Southland woman Dawn Lloyd is nearly 300km into her 2400km journey 
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Southland woman Dawn Lloyd is nearly 300km into her 2400km journey north, fundraising for the Southland Cancer Society. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
"Oh God," was what cancer survivor Dawn Lloyd thought as she prepared to climb the Kilmog, north of Dunedin, on foot.

Mrs Lloyd (62), of Morton Mains, has turned her dream of walking the length of New Zealand into a fundraiser for the Southland Cancer Society.

As of 3.30pm yesterday, she was 263km into the 2400km journey.

Having started in Bluff on December 4, Mrs Lloyd passed through Dunedin on Tuesday this week.

Asked how it was going so far, she said she was fine, but admitted the walk was "mentally tough".

To make it easier she was "looking for the nice things every day", such as the policeman who called her over for a chat because he had seen her two days in a row, or the quirky undiscovered houses she had found.

The walk had been an aspiration for six years for the social worker, who has fostered 20 children over 25 years, but it was put on hold in 2019 when she was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

She said it was "lucky" it was curable, although doctors warned her the treatment would be "incredibly harsh".

After 28 sessions of radiation and two 96-hour lots of chemotherapy in Dunedin Hospital’s oncology ward, Mrs Lloyd was given the all-clear on December 24 last year.

"It was my Christmas present," she said with a chuckle.

"I want to thank all of the people on the oncology ward, as they put a human face to the treatment."

During the treatment, Mrs Lloyd would set herself goals of walking 4km daily, which sometimes took several goes to achieve, but she was determined to keep fit.

It was a "privilege to be well" and the walk was not only for her, but for those who were not well enough to do it.

Adding the fundraising element to her six-year dream came after she received support from the Southland Cancer Society while she was in need.

"The volunteers are wonderful, and I know some of them use their own money to help cancer patients because patients can’t afford it."

She expected the journey would take her two and a-half months, and she looked forward to being able to say that instead of flying or driving past it, she had actually had time to take in all the beauty New Zealand had to offer.

 - tina.grumball@odt.co.nz

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