I wanted to tell you about some inspirational runners I know, following on from the review I wrote of Your Pace or Mine? Obviously anyone who runs is an inspiration in themselves – getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other. Each one with their own story to tell. Well I thought I would elaborate on the lady who runs because of her brother. Michelle was even nominated for an award by her neighbour and got down to the final 4 out of 30!
This is Michelle’s story.
Michelle’s Story – Running for George
Michelle is the oldest of four – followed by her sister, then George and youngest brother William. George was born 26th of March 1986 and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 6 weeks old. Medical advancement wasn’t as good as it is today and the prognosis was that George would be lucky to live over the age of 10 years old. Michelle’s mother was also advised to abort her youngest brother William.
What is Cystic Fibrosis?
- Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the UK’s most common life-threatening inherited diseases.
- Cystic fibrosis is caused by a defective gene. It effects individuals differently.
- The body produces too much mucus which builds up on the major organs. This results in chronic infections and inflammation in the lungs.
- They also don’t produce the correct enzyme’s to digest food properly so have difficulty digesting food. A lot also suffer from diabetes.
- Around 10,600 people in the UK have cystic fibrosis; that’s 1 in every 2,500 babies born. Cystic fibrosis affects around 100,000 people in the world.
- Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition. One person in 25 carries the faulty CF gene, usually without knowing; that’s over two million people in the UK.
- Michelle explains that her family is the perfect genetic family. If two carriers have a baby, the child has a one-in-four (25%) chance of having cystic fibrosis. 50% chance your child will be a carrier and 25% chance of being CF gene free. Michelle and her sister are carriers and their brother William is CF gene free. Mike (Michelle’s husband) got tested before they started trying for a family and found not to be a carrier. So they knew their children wouldn’t have CF. However, their son Ben could still be a carrier of the faulty gene. When he’s older he will be tested to see if he carries the gene as it could affect his children.
- A good film to watch is 6 feet apart, which is based on a book.
George was waiting for a lung transplant which never came.
He died aged just 21 years old on the 07.07.07.
Michelle describes George as the most loyal and generous person you could know. Saying that he would give you the shirt of his back if you needed it. That he was a loveable joker and never let CF hold him back.
A member of the Malvern Sea Cadets, he loved gong out dancing with his friends. That his true love was his car. He loved going out to car meets. Even when he was poorly his friends took him with his oxygen and everything he needed.
Even at 21 years of age he put everyone else before himself, even though he knew he was dying. He even organised his own funeral because he knew that his parents hearts wold broken losing him.
The day George died a BBQ was being organised. He just went to sleep and never woke up.
He left behind a girlfriend, Hayley, who he loved dearly. He since has 3 nephews and a niece.
It breaks Michelle’s heart to think of all she has seen and done in her adult life and what he has missed out on. She would gladly have given him her lungs and swapped his life for hers – saying the world would have been so much brighter with him still here.
Why Michelle Started Running
Michelle saw an advert on Facebook for a charity place with Cystic Fibrosis for the first ever London Landmarks Half Marathon. It was the day before George’s birthday! It kept niggling at her for days, despite the fact she couldn’t even walk a couple of miles without getting out of breath.
Michelle applied fully expecting them not to accept an overweight, unfit, heuavy smoker running for them. When the e-mail of acceptance arrived she had a panic attack. Michelle suffers from mental health issues and anxiety. The thought of large crowds and cameras were quite a frightening prospect. There was something telling Michelle to do it. She hoped it was George cheering her on. He believed anything was possible.
The First Mile
Michelle recalls putting on her trainers and doing that first mile. She said she couldn’t really call it a run as she walked most of it. That they next day her body ached. She had no idea how she was going to complete a half marathon.
Being positive she thought that maybe if she could get to a point where she could walk it then she would be ok. So she just kept on putting on her trainers and getting out there.
Read more about Michelle’s running journey in Part 2.