Great Manchester Run, Great North 10K, Great Edinburgh Run, Great North Run, Great Yorkshire Run, Great Birmingham Run, Great South Run...
Running into a healthy future
I started running in 2008 after signing up to run the Loch Ness Marathon for CHAS - and mum joined me by running the 10K (smashing her 60 minute target I might add).
By 2011 I was running pretty well and even winning the odd prize at club level, then something went horribly wrong. Almost overnight I found myself struggling to walk 200m at a time. Nearly a year later I was diagnosed with mastocytosis and told I would never run again.
Mastocytosis means that I have too many mast cells and that they are very unstable. When my mast cells degranulate my blood pressure drops dramatically and I can get a life threathening allergic reaction. Things that can trigger degranulation include perfumes, various foods and exercise. Yep, that's right, I'm allergic to exercise.
The thing is that running makes me a happier person, and I think a better one. So I decided to start building up my strength with weight training before trying to run again. At first the running was horrible but gradually things have improved. I have developed strategies to keep my mast cells calm, as long as I'm careful they don't throw the toys out the pram...
People with mastocytosis have a much higher chance of developing blood cancers, including mast cell leukaemia. When I found this out I did what everyone does and searched the Internet. Mast cell leukaemia is one of the most untreatable cancers and most people don't last longer than a few months after diagnosis. It shocked me that there are still cancers for which there is simply no real treatment.
I am passionate about raising money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research for this reason. I want to see treatments in the future. I have a deeper empathy for leukaemia patients than I did a few years ago and if I can play even a small part in funding research into blood disorders I will be very happy.
I am incredibly lucky to have been offered the chance to run 7 BUPA Great Run events this year and I promise to run my little socks off (without upsetting those pesky mast cells!).
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