25 March 2022

14-day walk from Blackpool to Bournemouth

When champion ballroom dancer Alexandra Hixson’s mum, Pam, died of lung cancer in 2019, her best friend, Louise Jones, was right by her side.

Now the friends are putting their best foot forward in memory of Pam and in honour of Louise’s daughter, Lana, who suffers from juvenile arthritis, needing frequent injections for the pain.

The pair, who have known each other since childhood, will be walking 311 miles to raise more than £5,000 in aid of four charities that have supported their loved ones.

Louise, 36, and Alex, 34, who is UK National Champion and International Rising Star Champion, will set off from Blackpool Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens on Mother’s Day – the day Pam’s cancer took a turn for the worse.

They will complete their 25-mile-a-day trek 14 days later at The Piccadilly Ballroom, Bournemouth on 9 April – the day Alex’s mum, Pam, died at home, surrounded by loved ones.

“My mum was always my number one supporter at every competition held in Blackpool, so it had to start there,” said Alex.

“The dates have a lot of significance. To throw into the mix it’s also my mum’s birthday in those two weeks, so I know it’s going to be hard, but I couldn’t think of a better way to cope with it and be with my best friend, who was so incredible in those times.

“When my mum was going through palliative care, it was the first time I’ve had to care for somebody. As difficult as it was to watch, I will never forget my mum’s strength. When I want to give up on the walk, I will think of those final days I had with my mum and I will draw on her strength.”

“Pam is certainly our inspiration”, said Louise, “she was like a second mum to me.”

“It’s also coming up to six years since Lana was diagnosed with Juvenile Ideopathic Arthritis and Uveitis when she was three.

“For about a year she would scream, cry, turn purple and throw up, because she was in so much pain with her legs. I took her to the doctors over and over again, and each time it was passed off as growing pains.

“Eventually we were referred to Southampton Children’s Hospital where we were told it was arthritis in her knees and eyes.

For nearly six months we had to give her two-hour eye drops around the clock. After that didn’t work, we moved on to give her various immuno-suppressive and anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-sickness drugs, steroids, stomach liners, folic acid, and extra paracetamol for pain relief.

“We’ve had a long battle trying to get her life back from there to something more normal. Now she has hit the incredible milestone of remission, I wanted to do something huge for both her Southampton Children’s Hospital team and the Children’s Chronic Arthritis Association (CCAA).

“We’re not particularly outdoorsy people – we don’t do hiking or walking, so this is something really out of our comfort zone. We’re doing it to say thank you to people, who have helped me and my journey with Lana, and Alex and her journey with Pam.”

Alex and Louise will be raising funds for Southampton Hospitals Charity (specifically the Paediatric Rheumatology unit) and the CCAA in honour of Lana, and the Wessex Cancer Trust and the Roy Castle Foundation, in memory of Pam, who received treatment for multiple cancers before she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

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