PC Kate Stuart: an Arctic adventure of a lifetime
Known by her local media as ‘the plucky PC’ Kate Stuart, a police officer with MS from Dursley, has just returned from an Arctic dog sled challenge after raising over £5,000 for the MS Society.
Find out what she got up to, and why …
In March 2009, while training to become a police officer, I discovered that I had lost the feeling on the right side of my face and along the right hand side of my tongue.
After months of medical tests, in October 2009, just after my 37th birthday, I was diagnosed with MS. My immediate reaction to the diagnosis was bizarre relief. I think I was relieved to know what was wrong with me.
Around March 2010 I started treatment, with injections of beta interferon which I take every other day. So far I have kept very well, I have fairly mild symptoms with the occasional bad day where my energy levels are very low (particularly on hot days).
My family thought I was mad
I have always enjoyed participating in sport, and like to stay reasonably fit. In August 2011 I decided to set myself a physical challenge that would push me to get fitter, and would also raise money for the MS Society, from whom I get valued support and information.
I had been looking at the fundraising pages on the MS Society’s website and saw the Arctic husky challenge. My family thought I was mad and suggested I do a sponsored swim at the local pool instead. I never listened.
I then embarked on eight months of hard training and fundraising. I received immense support from family, friends, colleagues and members of the local community who attended various events I organised, or sponsored me to help me get to, and beyond, my £4,000 target.
In April 2012 I left my family behind and set off to the Arctic. The scenery as we flew into Tromso, Norway, was just breathtaking. After a couple of hours training and a good night's sleep in a traditional Lavvo we set off for the mountains.
There were ten of us there to fundraise for different charities as well as four leaders to make sure the trip went smoothly and safely.
Each of us had our own sled with five or six dogs. We would sled all day then sort the dogs out for the night, put up our tents, cook our tea and then settle down for a cosy night's sleep (apart from the night when it was below -20°C).
Hold on tight!
The sledding was exhilarating. Sometimes the pace was steady and peaceful; other times it was a white knuckle ride, holding on with all your might as you shot down an icy slope. The conditions were extremely cold, but the equipment that we were provided with made the cold manageable.
My health was very good while I was in Norway. I managed well, but was grateful that I had put in a lot of training. I couldn't take my medication during the trip because it was impossible to keep the liquid vials at the recommended minimum temperature of 8°C.
I discussed this with my MS nurse before I went, and was advised to start up as soon as I got back to civilisation.
I’m now taking a little break from training to let my body recover fully, but I’m sure that in the next few months I’ll be searching out my next challenge - stay tuned.
Want an experience of a lifetime? Join the dog sledding challenge 2013