“I have always been a keen runner but only ever did up to 5k. In January 2014, I was doing a ‘Park Run’, at the finish, I said to my partner, I can’t see properly my vision is flashing images and then collapsed. This is when I had my first bleed and I was fortunate to be taken to a hospital, where the doctor who saw me, knew what a cavernoma was. He took a CT scan and sent it to Addenbrookes, going with his gut feeling and they confirmed it.
I continued on having bleeds thereafter sporadically and ended up finally having to make decision to having the Cavernoma removed before it did permanent damage or worse. It was in my occipital part of my brain so had its risks in relation to my vision. I had the operation in July 2014, it was very scary but I am extremely lucky that it has had no long lasting effects on me, other than occasional dizziness, tiredness and being prone to seizures.
I had always wanted to run the ‘Great Eastern Half Marathon’ as it was right here on my doorstep but never did it. Everything that had happened gave me a wake up call and I thought, the best time to train for the half marathon is now. I believed it would help my body heal, but also give me something to focus on to help with the recovery. I started by doing small walks after my operation gradually increasing it but also listening to my body and resting when needed. Over time I began running, eventually managing another park run and then continued to break through the tiredness barriers and do a 10k race in June. I continued putting the hours in, little and often, along with doing research on nutrition and completed a 10 mile run in September.
October 11th 2015, half Marathon day arrived. I was very very nervous, unsure if I could complete it, concerned about letting all those people who had sponsored me down. Also my main fear was this would push the tiredness too far and I would have a seizure (as I haven’t had one since the operation – touch wood). It was a great atmosphere all the way round, lots of people cheering, playing music and generally being part of the event. Friends of mine stood at various points round the route which was great as I was counting the miles down until I saw them, giving me something to focus on. It is an extremely tough challenge physically but worse than that it is a mental challenge, I did have conversations with myself along the way round to stop me walking, such things as look how far you’ve come, how blessed you are to be able to do this, think of others that couldn’t etc.
I finished the half marathon in 2hrs 11minutes and 47 seconds, with a huge crowd of friends cheering me over the finish line and no seizures! Such an emotional experience and still floating a bit! Along with a huge personal achievement, I was also able to raise some money for Cavernoma Alliance, who provided me with invaluable assistance and knowledge at the toughest time of my life and I will always appreciate the support they gave me.
I am very lucky and exercise works for me, it has helped me mentally and physically to recover.”