Leukaemia survivor Ricardo Martins, 47, will be walking 361kms from Lagos in the Algarve to the ‘Holy City’ of Fátima in May to raise money for the Portuguese Association Against Leukaemia (APCL).
The journey will begin on May 14 and is expected to last seven days. Ricardo will be joined by girlfriend Donna Groom and brother-in-law Marco Marreiros.
Ricardo’s girlfriend wrote on the walk’s GoFundMe page: “While going through his own treatment for leukaemia in hospital 15 years ago, Ricardo witnessed first-hand the incredible financial sacrifices families have to make to be near their children when they’re hospitalised.
“With nowhere to stay nearby and no government funding, these families struggle to afford the rent and expenses of being away from home at this awful time in their lives.”
The goal is to raise €5,000 for a project to build an accommodation facility, called ‘Porto Seguro’, for patients and their family members near Lisbon’s IPO Hospital. The plot of land has already been provided by Lisbon Council, says APCL.
On the day Ricardo found out he had leukaemia, he made two promises to himself if he survived: that he would go to Fátima every year in December and light a candle for every year he was alive (he has already lit 16), and that he would complete a walk from Lagos, where he has lived for many years, to Fátima.
The walk was planned for last year but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Ricardo was diagnosed with hairy cell leukaemia in 2004 after experiencing pain in his spleen at the age of 31.
At the time, he was in the process of opening his own business but was forced to undergo an unprecedented treatment in Portugal which saw him receiving chemotherapy for 24 hours straight for seven days.
He was mostly asymptomatic for the first four days, but the last three left him feeling “weak and delirious” and in need of two blood transfusions.
His recovery was also difficult and required daily exams almost every day to guarantee he did not relapse. A year later, he underwent a series of other treatments, but since then has not required any further treatments and eventually went into remission five years later.
The experience opened his eyes to the struggles that many families face when trying to support their children who are sick and in need of support. Hopes are that the charity walk can contribute to the opening of the much-needed ‘Porto Seguro’ home.