“Nerves and excitement are kicking in” for a Sandbach woman about to attempt a 26-mile hike along the Inca Trail, before scaling a South American mountain for charity.
Andrea Sheardown, who was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive bile duct cancer in 2015, will be heading to Rainbow Mountain in Peru after walking along the world-famous trail with a group of 23 others, known as Andrea’s AMMF Army.
Mrs Sheardown has been relentlessly campaigning for the AMMF charity, which supports people suffering with the disease, and was thanked at its annual conference in May last year after she had managed to raise more than £100,000.
As previously reported, she plans to attend Parliament in February along with other members of the charity, to present a White Paper outlining “shocking statistics” around patients’ access to treatment following a diagnosis, and to present findings from a four-year study of 50,000 NHS patients, which the charity funded.
The aim is to have the cancer declassified as “rare”, after statistics from the study showed that cases had doubled in the previous year.
As well as campaigning locally, Mrs Sheardown has completed the UK Three Peaks Challenge, scaled Kilimanjaro, cycled from Vietnam to Cambodia and climbed to Everest Base Camp.
Last February, she completed a cycling challenge from Bangkok to Phuket, which she hoped would raise awareness of the cancer, as it affects more people in Thailand than the rest of the world.
The mountain of seven colours, which is also known as Vinicunca, or Rainbow Mountain, was exposed to the world as a result of global warming when snow at its peak melted in 2015, revealing the colourful layered rock beneath.
After discovering that the icy layer melted in the same year as Mrs Sheardown’s diagnosis, she felt drawn to scale the peak.
Speaking to the “Chronicle” after booking the trip, she said: “To find out something so magnificent presented itself when everything was going wrong for me and I was given just six weeks to live, I knew that one of my challenges needed to involve that area.”
The trip, which takes place from 20th-30th March, will see 24 participants, who are mostly from Sandbach, hike the 26-mile Inca Trail over four days, taking the group to an altitude of 4,300 metres.
After an evening’s rest, Andrea’s Army will then head to Rainbow Mountain and climb the 5,200 metres to its summit.
Speaking to the “Chronicle” ahead of the adventure, she said: “The nerves and excitement have started to kick in now. You never know how you will be impacted by the altitude until you physically do the challenge.
“From previous experience, it’s when you are physically exhausted that you see your true grit and have to call on your mental strength to get you through!”
She added: “This challenge will be even more special as I will be sharing it with my husband Chris and my daughter Amelia.”
Mrs Sheardown said she felt “lucky and proud” to have 12 local business sponsors, who had helped fund the trip.
She said: “Their logos will reach new heights, literally over 17,000ft on the top of Rainbow Mountain! Five of the businesses have employees coming with me, too, and many have supported our previous challenges.”
A “Crazy Bingo” night to help raise funds for the charity is due to take place on Friday, 1st March, at Sandbach Rugby Club.
Tickets (£20) include three games of bingo, a free dabber, a cheeseboard courtesy of Symphony Hospitality and a disco by AO Events.
Each game offers the chance to win a cash prize and a raffle will also be held, with prizes drawn on the night.
To buy a ticket, which must be booked in advance, call Mrs Sheardown on 07983 377644.