WINCHESTER — World adventurer Rosie Swale Pope said she might have given up on life after losing her husband to incurable prostate cancer. Instead, the Wales native chose to be inspired by what she called her husband’s immense courage to face the unknown.
“I more or less sold my body,” she said, “but not in the usual way.”
Deciding to run for cancer awareness, she said, “I looked at a map of the world and I thought, I’ll run around the world.”
The 68-year-old is the first person to complete an unsupported run around the world.
Now, eight years after her worldwide run brought her to New York, she’s roughing it again with little more than a sleeping bag, a wireless Internet connection and the clothes on her back in a commitment to run from New York to San Francisco promoting cancer awareness.
On a Friday visit to Winchester, where she planned to tour the cancer unit at Winchester Medical Center, Pope said her journeys have taught her to fight darkness with light.
During her five years jogging through Europe, Siberia, Canada and the U.S., she said she nearly died eight times. — “But I chose to do that,” she assured.
“In the wilderness and in a hospital, there is no compromise,” she said.
Her words were inspiring for cancer patients and survivors who came to hear her speak.
Anticipating his final treatment for prostate cancer, Dan Nicol, 62, of Falling Waters, West Virginia, said he wanted to meet Pope after seeing her on TV and learning in a cancer support group that she would be in Winchester.
Frederick County resident Janet Hughes, 78, is also a runner and found comfort returning to her sport shortly after treatment for breast cancer.
Only two days after her last radiation treatment, Hughes ran in the Shenandoah Apple Blossom 10K and won for her age group.
“Now that I’m better, I didn’t know I was so tired,” she said. “I’m stronger than I was last year.”
Now in remission, she said she also finds Pope inspiring.
“I think she’s brave and crazy and strong,” said Hughes.
Pope began her trek across America in October and hopes to reach her goal by the end of the year, but said she’s traveled back to England several times for speaking engagements to fund her cause.
She runs with what she can carry, while towing an orange cart she dubbed Lady Icebird.
“I sleep in ditches, which is the only thing I am actually good at,” she joked.
Remembering her husband Clive Pope, whose prostate cancer spread to his bones, she said she wants to help cancer centers like the one Valley Health has proposed for its campus at Winchester Medical Center gain support from their communities.
Remarking on the $8 million the hospital’s foundation has raised toward its fundraising goal of a $27 million project, she said the remaining $2 million should be a breeze to collect.
“I’ve always believed there is no finish line,” she told hospital personnel and patients. “You’ve all decided to run past the finish line. On the horizon, there is another horizon.”
For more information about Rosie Swale Pope, visit her website http://rosieswalepope.co.uk/
Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org