Marie Curie Nurse Melissa is trekking through the night on Darkmoor

Melissa has been a Marie Curie Nurse for two years; caring for her patients through the night and supporting families and carers through terminal illness. This year, Melissa will be supporting her fellow nurses by swapping her nursing uniform for a pair of sturdy walking boots and completing the Darkmoor UK Trek to raise money for Marie Curie.

I decided to take on the Darkmoor challenge partly as part of a journey I have been on to lose weight and improve my fitness, and partly because I’m fundraising for something I truly believe in. I’ve been heavily involved in fundraising since I started working as a Marie Curie Nurse two years ago, so this is an extension of that.

Getting stuck in with training

The pack sent by Marie Curie when you sign up includes a training guide, which tells you how often you should be walking and targets relating to time and distance. It’s been very useful, and along with the kit guide, it’s made it really easy for me to keep track of my progress.

Once I got my shoes I just started walking. I have four spaniels so I take them out to a nearby beacon and just walk and walk, just to get used to being able to keep going. The guide says it’s important to train on terrain that will be similar to the trek, so I take on hills, uneven surfaces, and walking in all weathers.

As part of my journey to improve my fitness, I’ve recently lost about five stone. It’s hard to lose that last bit and keep up your motivation so I thought if I had a challenge that included exercise, I would have no choice but to train and get on with it!

Part of something bigger

The timing of the event is particularly poignant as the Darkmoor trek begins at the same time a night shift starts for a Marie Curie Nurse - at 10pm. For a nurse like me, this will be the first time I’ll be starting a trek at 10pm instead of getting ready to sit down with my patient for the night.

I found it really moving that the times coincide, because as a Marie Curie Nurse it can often feel that you are going out on shift at someone’s home to start your work by yourself. It’s good to remember that I am part of something bigger, and you're one of hundreds of nurses doing the same at that time.

For me, it's wonderful to be able to be there at that patient’s time in their life, and to be that calm, organised, reassuring presence. We do sometimes have nights where we just sit quietly with someone too; I once cared for an elderly lady who just wanted to hold my hand, and she held it for all nine hours of my shift. I could barely move my arm when I got in the car to drive home!

You can support Marie Curie Nurses like Melissa by taking on a UK trek.