Capped over 30 times for Scotland Women, prop Vicky Galbraith was a member of the side that won the Women’s European Championships in 2001; twenty four hours later she was playing for her club side, Richmond, at Twickenham, winning the English Women’s Club Championships!
In November 2010, while pursuing a successful career in pharmaceutical anti-cancer drug development, Vicky found herself diagnosed with a rare cancerous brain tumour. Since then she has undergone major surgery to remove the tumour and is currently undergoing intensive chemotherapy.
Despite all this, right now she is putting her best foot forward in a sponsored Big Walk To Clinic from her birthplace, Portree, on the Isle of Skye, where her diagnosis began, to the Beatson Cancer Care Centre at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow – a total distance of 215 miles!
The first section of the journey, from Portree to Fort William, was undertaken by her father, Alasdair, and on Easter Sunday Vicky set off to walk the second section herself from Fort William, following the West Highland Way south to Glasgow, some 103 miles!
Said Vicky: “A lot of support has come from the rugby community. I’m being joined on the walk by a mixture of friends from university, some of the Scotland girls from my playing days, work colleagues and long-standing friends to newer friends I’ve met through cancer.
“And people have been doing all sorts of things to support the fundraising. My mum started things off with an open garden event, my aunt in Australia held a champagne garden party and there’s a little old lady from home who really wanted to do her bit so she joined in the first stage of the walk – there she was with her Zimmer frame, stepping out alongside my dad.”
Her build-up for the event, however, hasn’t followed the normal route as she adds: “It coincided with double doses of chemo so my preparation has involved very solitary days, lots of naps – and eating copious amounts of black things, like blackberries, as that apparently counteracts the effects!”
At the time of her diagnosis, Vicky was training to be a rugby referee, which she plans to continue when able. She has already raised over £7000 for healthcare-related charities in the north west of Scotland with fundraising events so far.
Scottish Rugby President, Ian McLauchlan, said: “Vicky’s courage and determination are an example to us all. With this spirit and tenacity she can beat anything – just what I would expect from a fellow prop.”
Vicky plans to reach her destination on Monday 2 May, taking in both Maggie’s Centre and the Beatson and encourages all to come along and show their support while thanking all who have done so to date.
She said: “It gives me renewed strength, when there’s so much horror going on in the world, that people have been showing their support and showing they care.”
Vicky’s Big Walk To Clinic is raising funds for The Beatson Pebble Appeal, Maggie’s Centres and Macmillan Cancer Support. To support or donate see Vicky’s web site at http://vixbigstuff.wordpress.com/