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My Adventure of a Lifetime with “Winnie” (My Stoma)

Five months after having a radical cystectomy, the “hubby” and I set off for 8 months of backpacking around SE Asia.

A new challenge

It was while we were on this journey that my hubby came across an advertisement for the “Indian Rickshaw Run”. This is how it’s described: “Indian adventuring at its best, in a 7 horsepower cake tin on wheels. The Rickshaw Run is easily the least sensible thing to do with your time off. No set route, no back-up, no way of knowing if you’re going to make it. The only certainty is that you will get lost, you will get stuck, you will break down, and you will help save a bit of the world,” which, in our case, meant to help raise funds and awareness for a charity of our choosing. “It’s just you and your mates in a wholly unsuitable vehicle, traversing the subcontinent, enduring whatever the road throws at you. 2 weeks to complete over 3000 kilometers (~1865 miles).”

As all entrants to this Rickshaw Run are raising money for one charity or another, I chose to raise funds for Fight Bladder Cancer, a UK-based bladder cancer charity.

Deciding to “go for it”

It was in a sudden moment of what can only be described as “madness,” I signed me and hubby up for the “Indian Rickshaw Run”.

Now, we are not young; I’m 55, and the hubby is 58. Never, ever in my wildest dreams before having my stoma, my “Winnie”, would I ever have considered taking on anything like this. I liked to be “organized”, knowing where I was going to be staying, to have fully researched on the internet the accommodation before booking. All this would be “out the window” on this trip.

I wanted, in fact, I needed to prove to myself and others that you can still embark upon great adventures, even with a “stoma”. So that was that: I had committed us to enter this awesome challenge.

Arriving at the “start” location

We arrived in the far northern city of Jaisalmer, India, just 15 miles from the border with Pakistan. This was where we would meet our “trusty steed”, our 3 wheeled auto-Rickshaw.

We had 3 days to get to grips with our tin can of a vehicle. While learning to drive it, some basic mechanical and safety briefings were given and that was it.

All that was left to do is what they call “pimp it”. This is when you “decorate” your Rickshaw however you wish. Our Rickshaw was going to be used to promote awareness of the signs & symptoms of bladder cancer. This was going to be my “one woman” mission to bring “bladder cancer” to as many peoples’ attention as I could.

The journey

The Rickshaw Run set off on Aug 13th of 2018. We had 14 days to travel around 1865 miles. 84 auto-rickshaws were sent off with bands playing, ladies dancing, drummers, camels, and most of the town had turned out to watch us parade out past the start line.

This was it, no turning back now. I suddenly realized the enormity of what we had taken on. “Please God, let Winnie behave”, I muttered as we drove across the start line.

To be continued…

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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