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Vasculitis UK is a registered UK charity who provides support, awareness and works with other organisations to promote improvements in treatments etc.
Vasculitis, meaning inflammation of the blood vessels, is a rare inflammatory disease which affects any vessels in any part of the body. There are various types of Primary Systemic Vasculitis; some are mild and require no treatment, but others are very severe and cause serious illness, even death, if not recognised and diagnosed promptly and treated appropriately and effectively. This illness affects around 2-3000 new people each year in the UK, with its’ route cause largely unknown.
Please visit http://www.vasculitis.org.uk/ for further information.
On September 8th 2019, health being on our sides, we (Gemma & Phil Mercer and Karen & Glenn Basham) will be taking part in the Great North Run in support of Vasculitis UK to assist them in their aims, goals and objectives.
Working for the emergency and support services (Norfolk Constabulary, East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust and The Norfolk and Norwich University NHS Trust Hospital), our lives are dedicated to helping people and supporting others. However over the last few years Gemma and Karen have been diagnosed with this awful disease and for them this has impacted on their family lives tremendously. Without understanding of this disease, its’s fair to say that neither of them would be here now.
After increasing worsening virus type symptoms, and various GP and hospital visits, during 2014, Gemma was diagnosed with Churg-Strauss Syndrome (EGPA) in January 2015; mainly affecting her heart, sinuses and damaging various nerves. After spending new years’ eve on the Coronary Care Unit and the following week on the Cardiology ward she began 6 rounds of Cyclophosphamide (chemo) treatment, including high dose steroids, and is now on an immunosuppressant drug called Mycophenolate, guided by her team of Rheumatology, ENT and Respiratory consultants.
Karen suffered much the same towards the end of 2017, finally being diagnosed with Wegener’s (GPA) in January 2018; mainly affecting her Kidneys, sinuses and lungs. Karen spent 2 nights in Intensive Care, 2
nights in the High Dependency Unit and 7 nights on the Nephrology ward, receiving 7 plasma exchanges, before beginning 6 rounds of Cyclophosphamide treatment and high dose steroids. More recently she has trialed an immunosuppressant drug called Rituximab, guided by her Renal consultant.
The fight is still on but Karen and Gemma both see their consultants on a regular basis and are determined to carry on as normal and live their lives to the full.
Some might say that Karen and Gemma are stubborn, they may tend to disagree/argue that what others see as stubbornness is in fact determination to not let this illness beat them. Although they can reach remission, they will never be entirely free of Vasculitis.
Their (apparently long, long, suffering) husbands, Glenn and Phil, have helped them throughout their illness and are the rock of their families.
We hope by running the Great North Run we can make a difference to all who are sadly diagnosed with this disease.
Please donate to help increase understanding of vasculitis, improve outcomes and support other people with vasculitis.
Gemma, Karen, Glenn & Phil