They decided to really challenge themselves and cycle the road from Warrnambool to Melbourne, a distance of about 400 km along some pretty precarious roads.
Riding hard and with only a couple of backpacks between them, the journey took them six days, with a total elevation climbed of 3,967 metres.
“We were absolutely terrified at the prospect” India said “but it was an amazing experience. The highs definitely outdid the lows.”
They took on the challenge to raise funds for meningitis research and awareness after India was unlucky enough to contract bacterial meningitis type C (Meningococcal) while on holiday about 18 months ago.
An unimaginable nightmare
“What at first on the flight home felt like a normal case of tonsillitis soon turned into an unimaginable nightmare” India said. “We only started to suspect something serious when my sister, Daisy, spotted the tell-tale marks of septicaemia (blood poisoning) on my arms and persuaded my family to take things seriously.”
“What I was told would only be a quick trip to the French hospital just ‘to be sure I wasn't going to die', turned for my parents into a seemingly never-ending seven hours of watching me go through headaches, vomiting, morphine, scans and endless blood tests before a lumbar puncture finally confirmed that I had meningococcal meningitis.“
“By this time I was out cold in a coma, on full life support in the ICU – I have no recollection at all of the following five days.”
“I woke up with no clue where I was or what had happened to me, still in a lot of pain and discomfort and spent the next 10 days having multiple blood tests, injections, physiotherapy on my chest to sort out a lung infection caught by excessive vomiting and taken on daily walks to rebuild leg muscles and remind them how to function.“
Growing stronger every day
“At first I couldn't do anything for myself, but I grew stronger every day as I was so determined to get through it and for everything to go back to normal.”
“Despite it being unbearable for all involved, I'd also like to show people that these stories don't always end badly and I know hearing that would have given my family and friends a great deal of hope and encouragement while sitting at my bedside.”
“People think it will never happen to them or anyone close to them, but trust me, it can!”
Thought it was just tonsillitis
Millie added: “When India suddenly became uncontactable 18 months ago it really threw me. We had spent very few nights apart, we speak all the time and do pretty much everything together.“
“We were leaving Malta feeling absolutely fine, but then India started to feel a bit iffy on the plane. We thought it was just tonsillitis and I was just happy to eat her chocolate mousse before we parted company at the airport! The next thing I heard was that she was in a coma, in intensive care, on life support.“
“Over the next week mutual friends constantly messaged me asking for updates and reassurance that everything would be alright, even though I knew just as little as them. I began to realise what I'd lost when I needed to start writing down all the little things that were happening that I would normally have told India about straight away. It is incredible that everything turned out fine in the end, but it was probably one of the scariest two weeks of my life.”
“India isn't the only person I know who has had meningitis and she won’t be the last. That’s why we set out to jointly raise some money towards research into prevention, cure, and providing support to those close to anyone else who goes through what India endured.”
“Most importantly, anything that can be done to raise awareness will save lives.”
Thank you so much to India and Millie, and everyone who supported them.