OK, I'll *try* to keep this as short and simple as possible ….
In March 2014, by total fluke, I was diagnosed with a condition called haemochromatosis (bit of a mouthful, I know).
Haemochromatosis is a condition that means the body absorbs too much iron from food.
Over time, the excess iron builds up in the body and damages the organs and joints. It can lead to serious conditions, such as liver disease, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. There are lots of other horrible symptoms that can develop too.
If not diagnosed and treated in time, haemochromatosis can be life threatening.
The most common type of haemochromatosis is genetic. This is the type I have. It’s actually one of the most common genetic conditions.
Despite this, most of you reading this won't have heard of it. Even worse, most doctors don't know much about it either. It’s wrongly thought to be a rare condition. However, estimates suggest genetic haemochromatosis affects one in 200 people, yet only one in 5000 people is diagnosed.
I'm very lucky. I was diagnosed before much harm was done. I went through an intense period of treatment last year and now my iron levels are normal. As long as I’m monitored and keep my levels down, I should be able to lead a normal, full length life.
In case you're wondering, treatment involves having blood taken (just like in the blood donor clinic). I had ten pints of blood taken in six months. Not the most amount of fun I've ever had, but hey, it could be much worse!
Many others are not so lucky. Many others either never get diagnosed or they get diagnosed later in life, when the iron build-up has caused serious and irreparable damage.
Early diagnosis is essential to saving lives. Maybe it saved mine. This is why awareness raising is essential. Doctors, patients and policy makers need to be more informed. In addition, lots more research needs to be done into the condition. That's what I'm raising money for.
This will be my first half marathon. I had to pull out of two previous attempts - once because I was too knackered from having all that blood taken and once because I hadn't recovered enough from breaking my foot (it's possible this was also related to the haemochromatosis as there is some evidence it can affect bone density).
So please donate - any amount is appreciated. (I'm also happy if you just read this and found out something you didn't know before!)
Er, sorry. This wasn't very short, was it?