Crikey! Well it’s been a very busy two weeks since we last left off but Hannah and I have now officially finished our first cycle of chemotherapy, that’s 3 lots of drugs, in 5 weeks, 23rd may to 23rd June, with another cycle to go before our first check up scan that will let us know if we are hitting the tumours hard, #kickingcancersbutt and if I’m being the super duper #chiefchemopony I set out to be! We’ve also had a mega amount of fundraising going on which has been totally crazy as I’ve used my VIP status to climb my way to fame in the world of equestrianism and spread the word of how we #eventerssticktogether and nothing can beat that. Not even you cancer.
For starters, my fabulous @willberrywonderpony instagram page began on 1st June, one month after Hannah’s diagnosis at the start of May. We started with 0… And now have nearly 11,000 followers, yes 11,000 of you incredible, supportive, amazing, kind, beautiful people behind us with our three week anniversary fast approaching on Monday.
So you know what would be nice? To hit that 11k square on and know that this horrible thing called cancer has got a big front and a wonder pony coming for it! Soon after I gained my name Hannah was approached by a lovely girl who offered to start campaigning me further with the hashtag #kickingcancersbutt using wristbands… Which soon led to a website… and wallah
www.willberrywonderpony.com was formed! I’d strongly advise you to head straight there if you haven’t already! Wristbands are £2 each and each one makes a huge difference not only to Hannah as we have bought her wig but also continued rehabilitation as well as further cancer charities that need your help and support to keep going. I am over the moon to announce that the wristbands alone have already raised over £4000 and we don’t intend to stop selling until you stop buying!
Following their release at Nunney International Horse Trials this weekend there will be a new purchasable item as of next week too so please keep your eyes peeled and support these as well! (They’re really yummy!)
Meanwhile 6 of Hannah’s fellow horsey buddies were preparing for the Race for Life on 13th June. Hannah was gutted to be in hospital on her second lot of chemotherapy during this time as she had been desperate to support the team of both horses and riders but it just couldn’t happen.
It’s seeming to become a bit of a trend for her to miss out on things she hoped to see such as Mattingley Horse Trials with her infection and Nunney Horse Trials due to yet more chemotherapy or even a Chesney cuddle due to sheer illness. But I guess there will be other days and in this instance I thought I’d do my bit and went to support them instead! Little did I know I’d be “running” too… However I’m sure it was my deep words of determination that got the crew through that finish line like the true champions they were AND you’ll never guess how much they raised for Cancer Research UK…!? A whopping £3330 and that total is still rising at https://www.justgiving.com/canter4cancer! Just amazing.
Even now we are still in absolute shock as for the sheer number of people whom both we know and love and the complete and utter strangers who are getting behind our wonder pony campaign. This was no different when I was contacted by the wonderful Nikki at Eventing Worldwide to produce a blog for this website – Hannah’s smile just grew even more. It’s release on 9th June was just incredible and so many people seemed to take an interest in our story.
Then, it happened. The stars emerged… Ben Hobday… Emily & Mary King…. Olivia Oakley… Paul Tapner…Lucinda Fredericks… Charlotte Dujardin! That’s only naming a FEW! Every day someone would put a smile on Hannah’s face and that’s what would get her through a tough thought or a doubt or a worry. If I could I would take all of these
people by the hoof and thank them one by one for making my best friend so happy again even for a short time just to forget her fears.
Hannah’s next surprise was a visit from Lucinda Green’s daughter Lissa one Friday when she was in hospital, it was magical to see her face light up the way it did.
Getting to come home in between the most recent chemo sessions had at first seemed unlikely but thankfully due to her tough skin and determination we’ve made it home for two days in between each
one. It was so cool to have my first ride on Mavis when Hannah and I finally made it for a visit before Nunney as we knew we’d be in hospital on the day of the competition.
Tom Grant is a pretty fair support rider although I am dead set on doing it myself next time. I hope you like my riding hat too, it was a special edition “Francis egg box elite” that I’m sure will take off as soon as this blog goes live.
Team Francis Eventing had such a successful trip to the beautiful event as a result of my wonderful schooling session that day as Mavis finished third after jumping yet another super double clear inside the time to finish on her dressage of 32.8 in a tough novice section. I had overheard Hannah telling her mum that Tuesday just how well she thought Mave looked; sleek, strong and smart, so I think that’s good praise, I’ve heard it about me before so she can’t be going far wrong! All the same, seeing someone else riding her pride and joy, her absolute angel is so hard. I know she misses her horses and riding more than anything, it’s all she’s ever done in life and all she’s ever wanted to do in life and she will do it again I know it. To be honest horses is 99% all we ever talk about. I’m 99% that’s the shape of her brain a lot of the time… Mavis heads to Chepstow for her first intermediate-novice with Tom on 4th July so we have everything crossed for no infections, no hospital and no hiccups to stop us getting there!
BREAKING NEWS: Willberry Wonder Pony WINS the CIC2* at Nunney International Horse Trials ridden by Hannah Francis on an outstanding dressage score of 21.1. What’s next for this talented pair?
So with cycle one complete we are back to start cycle two this Wednesday! No rest for the wicked! There’s still so many exciting things to come for our team though, for example some pretty cool baselayers in the pipeline and maybe some more eventing idol visits for my best friend? I’m sure I could stretch to an hour answering questions on Twitter too if that’s what it takes to fullfill my wonder pony role.
Lots of love, Willberry xxx