Cancer survivor set to live up to her trekking promise

ON A MISSION: Connie McKee stands next to young Alex Bartetzko at her high tea fundraiser. INSET: Scenes from the high tea, which raised about $4500.
ON A MISSION: Connie McKee stands next to young Alex Bartetzko at her high tea fundraiser. INSET: Scenes from the high tea, which raised about $4500. Inga Williams

CONNIE McKee made a promise to herself on the one year anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

It's a promise that will take her all the way to Spain's infamous El Camino trail next year in a challenge to fundraise $10,000 for the Breast Cancer Network of Australia.

Connie is one of 26 Australian women who will take part in the trek in May next year. She is taking it on after a personal pledge to accept the challenge if her one-year tests in October came back all clear.

After three surgeries and seven weeks of radiation, Connie got the result so many women and their families hope for each year.

She is now preparing for the physical and financial challenge she has set herself.

Each participant of the trek has pledged to fundraise for services such as care kits given to women who are newly diagnosed and support for women with secondary cancer.

Connie credits the My Journey and My Care kits, given to women by the Breast Cancer Network, for coping with her own diagnosis easier.

The My Care Kit includes a specially-designed bra for women post surgery and the My Journey Kit offers advice and ways to keep track of appointments and expenses.

"Those two kits were the most helpful," she said.

The financial challenge is already more than half conquered after a trio of fundraising events that gained support from across Ipswich.

Connie hosted a high tea auction last month that raised an estimated $4500 on the back of raffle and auction items donated by local businesses and featured a fashion parade by Saba's on Grange.

She had already raised about $1000 and hopes to bust through her $10,000 goal with another event in March.

The next step now is train for the trek itself. Connie and her fellow participants will take on the last 100km section of El Camino, also known as Camino De Santiago, covering more than 20km a day.

"I'm looking forward to the physical challenge," she said.

Exercise is one way to manage the effects of medication Connie must remain on for the next five years.

She said her own diagnosis had shown her just how many women in Australia are affected by breast cancer.

"It's something that I thought would never happen to me," she said.

El Camino:

Known in English as the Way of St. James, El Camino is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been a pilgrimage route since the Middle Ages.

Christian pilgrims would walk for weeks or months on a journey to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Hundreds of thousands of people continue to replicate parts of the pilgrimage each year on a trail that stretches across northern Spain.

Topics:  breast cancer cancer survivor ipswich trekking

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