By Gill Stewart at
We hear so many stories from people who have discovered Nordic walking and many have their own reasons for loving it so much – here is a powerful tale that has been shared by the amazing Jenny Budden
My Nordic Walking Journey
My Nordic walking journey starts a few years ago when I was watching BBC breakfast time, an item on the sports section with Mike Bushell caught my attention, it was about Nordic Walking and was in my home county of Dorset.
I had been looking for something to get fit with and at the time was busy working as a nurse, and did not have a lot of time to attend exercise classes. It caught my attention as I have been walking in the outdoors ever since I could remember, I also have two lively springers who like to have long walks, Nordic Walking fitted the bill.
I looked at doing courses, however could not find a class that fitted in with my life at the time, most were held in the week and in the daytime when I was working. I did some research and looked at YouTube videos and got a copy of The Complete Guide to Nordic Walking by Gill Stewart, and a pair of Leki poles.
I started practising in my back garden and then started using them on my daily dog walk, got a few comments like are you going skiing etc., some showed an interest and asked about the poles one or 2 thought I had a mobility problem! I walk two springer spaniels on a double lead with a running waist belt, after a few walks they knew they had to stay in a straight line, they come in useful climbing hills, I walked up Glastonbury Tor with them and my poles made that much easier! that was about 5 years ago.
Then my life took a turn……….
In 2019 I suddenly lost my eldest son to suicide, he was 39. I had several months off work as it was such a shock. Nordic Walking really helped as I went for long walks with my dogs, just me and the dogs to get my head straight and I think it prevented me from falling into a deep depression. Walking in the outdoors, has always helped when I have been upset or troubled. During the 4 months I had off work, the opportunity to do a 4 week Nordic Walking course came up and I went along to it.
I found I had the basics in place and only needed a few tweaks to get the technique right. I had intended to join some of the local walks, however my return to work and then Covid prevented this. In 2020 I retired from my nursing career after 20 plus years. Six weeks after retirement I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer after a routine Mammogram, initially it was thought it had been caught early and that a small operation and some radiotherapy would soon sort it out, however that was not the case. Results of the operation came back and they had found 2 types of cancer, one of which could not be seen on any scan. So I had both invasive lobular and ductal cancer. Ductal is the most common, lobular accounts for only 15%. I had no idea I had an alien in my body.
On New Year’s eve, well nowhere else to go with Covid raging all around, I was back to surgery to see if they could remove more tissue, results of that came back and they found even more cancer, so a mastectomy was recommended, which I had in the middle of Feb 2021. By then I had had 3 operations within the space of 4 months, it took me 6 weeks to recover from each one. The mastectomy was the biggest but I felt well from that within a week. Unfortunately, I had complications from the mastectomy, a lot of fluid and a haematoma in the space where my breast was so finally in late June 2021 the surgeon reopened the scar – my 4th operation on my cancer journey. I did not need chemotherapy or radiotherapy as they tested a sentinel node and it had not spread beyond the breast. They also did a genetic test and said my chance of it coming back was very low. During this time I was not able to get out very much with my poles as I felt tired a lot of the time but in the last couple of months I have started getting out again. Unfortunately, I also have a herniated disc and I am waiting to see a surgeon about that, it was put on hold during my cancer treatment but I did it just before the 1st lockdown in 2020.
I have found that Nordic Walking helps with my back and the leg pain I get, as a result of the disc pressing on a nerve, enormously. Mentally getting out with the dogs and my poles helps a lot, my husband often walks with me, but not persuaded him to use the poles yet.
I like walking alone, just me and the dogs and it has helped me get through my 4 operations and all the other things cancer throws at you, as well as losing my son. I can recommend Nordic Walking it gets you fit and helps you focus on what’s really important, which for me is family, husband, son, my late son’s daughter and my other two grandchildren.
I’ve been very lucky with my cancer, I have now completed all my treatment. As a result of the mastectomy the area under my arm is tight and numb, by Nordic Walking, the area under my arm is loosening up, I notice the difference when I don’t take my poles with me on a walk, so they go with me all the time now when I walk the dogs. I mentioned to my Breast Care Nurse at my signing off from treatment appointment that I was Nordic Walking, and she immediately said it was excellent exercise for breast cancer, so for anyone else who’s is in the same situation as me I can recommend it. I’m a positive person life throws all sorts of things at us and I have had a right storm thrown at me and its not finished yet, I have a 95 year old father who is getting frailer and will need lots of support, but whatever happens as long as I’ve got my poles and dogs I know I can weather it.
Thanks so much for sharing both your story and your positivity Jenny, you are an inspiration and we are so glad you have discovered the power of poles.