A pair of newlywedsÂ took a unique approach to their honeymoon recently, climbing eight mountains in as many days â€” in their wedding outfits, no less â€” to raise awareness around aÂ rare form of vasculitis, a blood vessel disorder, that afflicts the bride.
â€œIâ€™m not into [mountain climbing]Â usually but it seemed an ideal challenge, as Iâ€™ve had to overcome metaphorical mountains to get me as well as I am now,â€ Janine Osborne-Bowring, 34, of Wales in the U.K., tells Yahoo Style. â€œThe climbs havenâ€™t been too hard but have been physically demanding.â€
Both she and her husband, Matt Osborne-Bowring, 41, areÂ personal trainers who own their own fitness centers. ButÂ despite them both being in great shape,Â Janine had two things working against her for each climb: First, though she did wearÂ hiking boots, she was also wearing herÂ gown. â€œThe wedding dress is a fabulous wedding dress with a large train and is ridiculously heavy,â€ she says. â€œAll sequined and embroidered.â€
And sheâ€™s still recovering from the intense chemotherapy used to treat her condition, called granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA/Wegenerâ€™s), which is a systemic inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to intense pain, weakness, numbness, vision and hearing problems, and organ failure. â€œI am currently in medical remission, meaning that although the disease is present it is inactive due to my chemotherapy, which I am due again at the end of the month,â€ she says, adding that symptoms of the disease â€œcan strike at any time.â€ (Still, she told Penarth TimesÂ postclimb,Â â€œI thought I would be hurting badly but it wasnâ€™t too bad.â€)
Janine shares detailsÂ about her 2015 diagnosis on herÂ Just Giving campaign page, through which she and Matt have raised nearly $2,000 for Vasculitis UK, through which they have found invaluable support.
â€œI was suffering with joint pain, would feel exhausted, had a cough that would come and go, sniffles, and would have night sweats that would wake me up!â€ she recalls of the time when she first began feeling sick. â€œBut I put it down to over doing it, the time of the year as it was coming into winter, and also being a woman I just thought it was one of those things!â€ But before she knew it, she continues, â€œI was fighting for my life. I was so weak I couldnâ€™t walk my muscles were disappearing in front of my eyes. My mouth was covered in ulcers, I had lost all the feeling in the right side of my face and my tastebuds had disappeared.â€
She used her campaign page to announce her inspiring postwedding plan: â€œMyself and my beautiful husband to be will climbing 8 Welsh mountains within 8 days or less, as it took 8 weeks for me to get answers.â€
The peaks the newlyweds have scaled are some of the highest in Wales, including Mount Snowdon (3,560 feet) in Snowdonia National Park; Pen yÂ Fan (2,907 feet); Corn Du (2,864 feet); and, in the Black Mountains range, Waun Fach (2,661 feet)Â and Fan Brycheiniog (2,633Â feet).Â The pair reached four summitsÂ in Snowdonia National Park in just one day, but besides those, Janine says,Â â€œThey are spread out throughout Wales and each took roughly a day to climb due to traveling to some remote locations. We had to watch the weather as they would have been dangerous in adverse weather conditions.â€
Janineâ€™s Instagram post on the journeyÂ conveys a feeling of exhilaration. â€œWhen you feel the world is against you, you must keep on climbing!â€ she writes. â€œDoctors appointments and hospital stays will always be apart of life but we have to grab those moments we feel amazing and see all that is beautiful in this world.â€
Depending on the location of each mountain, Janine and Matt would either head home to sleep in between or stay at a park campsite, which, Janine says, â€œwas situated in the woods and a beautiful surrounding in the midst of the mountains.â€
But the couple isnâ€™tÂ strictly roughingÂ it. â€œWe celebrated with a bottle of bubbly and a posh dinner when we returned on Saturday,â€ she notes, adding, â€œWe have a proper honeymoon in Hawaii in October.â€