Hawthorn Woods woman over halfway through 500-mile walk for breast cancer research
Hawthorn Woods resident Leslie Ferris Yerger is well past the halfway mark in her 500-mile solo walk along Frances Way, the most heavily traveled segment of the Camino de Santiago, in France and Spain.
Ferris Yerger, who has Stage IV lobular breast cancer, began her trip in mid-September to support research to improve early detection. That will come too late for her, but she hopes the mission will raise money and help others.
She checked in with the Daily Herald on Friday.
"It's harder than I thought it would be but I can still do it. I am surprised at the variety of people, young and old, out here doing this from all over the world," she wrote in an email.
She said she is grateful for the love and support for her cause.
"It's fascinating to meet so many different people and find out why they are walking. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people who have supported my fundraising effort," she wrote. "I have many donations from people I don't even know."
She is sharing her experiences at walkthewaywithher.com/blog/. Here are some questions and answers from the road.
Q: How are you feeling?
A: Very good. So tired at night and feet and legs hurt but so do everyone else's! Many people have gotten sick with something like the flu or a stomach bug; I have escaped it so far. Keep your fingers crossed. I had to get a routine blood test in Leon. My blood counts were a little low but good enough to start another round of meds, so all is good.
Q: How are your feet holding up?
A: Pretty well. They just get tired. Blisters are a huge issue for people on the Camino, but by now the feet have toughened up, and are very calloused. I only got one blister, so I feel lucky!
Q: How many miles have you gone?
A: 325 miles!
Q: How much farther to go?
A: 175 but I may add another 50 and walk all the way to the ocean. It's called Finestarre which means end of the land, and it's where people used to think that is where the world ended. It's the most western point in Europe.
Q: Any surprises along the way?
A: The roughness of the terrain, and the heat as well as the cold have all taken me by surprise. When they say flat, it's still pretty hilly. They don't know flat like we do!
Q: What is the coolest thing you've encountered?
A: How much the pilgrims all help each other and know each other. The people walking it form a little subculture along with the folks running the bars and albergues.
Also there is a much higher degree of trust than is normally seen at home. There is no lock on any door, and nowhere to secure your stuff. You just have to trust no one is going to take it!
Q: Where have you been sleeping?
A: In albergues. Group hostels that house pilgrims in dorm-type situations with communal bathrooms and showers. See my blog on albergues! walkthewaywithher.com/albergue/
Q: How much have you raised?
A: About $27,000 so far. Still $23,000 left to go to get the full matching grant from the Foglia Foundation. I will walk 500 miles so I would love sponsorships of 10, 25, or 50 cents a mile! Or how about a dollar?