Catriona Edwards, 36, from Blackheath has set herself the gruelling challenge of competing in the London Marathon on the 23 April in aid of the charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).
Cat, who works for a large professional services firm, will be running for MRF after surviving meningitis as a teenager.
Cat said, “Just after I turned 19 I went backpacking solo around Australia. I was having a great time until one day I was taken ill in Queensland. My hostel room mates were so worried about me that they made sure I got to hospital as quickly as possible. In the ambulance on the way there I could feel my breathing slow down and by the time I got to hospital my legs were extremely painful. “The doctors called my parents who were at home in London and told them I was very ill with bacterial meningitis and septicaemia. My mum got on the first flight to Australia, while my dad stayed at home with my brothers, all of them worrying about whether I was going to make it.
“I was put into a medically induced coma, which lasted for 13 days. During that time the disease decimated my entire body. I had lung failure, kidney failure, a globally enlarged heart and a heart murmur. My blood had stopped flowing and clotting normally. All of my muscles, tendons and ligaments wasted to nothing. Thanks to the excellent treatment I received, I pulled through. However, walking, talking, swallowing and smiling were just some of the things I had to re-learn from scratch.
“Thanks to the introduction of vaccines, the incidence of meningitis and septicaemia in the UK has decreased in the years since I was ill. It's tempting, therefore, to treat the disease as a historical problem but it’s far from it. It is still killing or disabling people and I would like to show solidarity to the people and families affected. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would attempt the London marathon but I’ll give it my best shot.”
If you are able to sponsor Cat you can visit her fundraising page at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/catrunslondon.
Vinny Smith, Chief Executive of MRF said, “We are really grateful to Cat for taking on this huge challenge to help raise funds for MRF. Meningitis and septicaemia can strike quickly, sometimes killing in hours, and leaving some survivors with life-changing after effects. The money raised will enable us to fund vital scientific research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis, raise awareness of the disease and support those affected.”
The first symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion. People who are ill with meningitis and septicaemia can deteriorate rapidly and not everyone gets all of these symptoms. It’s important for people to trust their instincts and get medical help immediately if they suspect meningitis.
The London marathon is regarded as one of the most popular running events in the world. Starting at Greenwich Park and finishing by Buckingham Palace, the route takes the runners through some of central London’s top attractions.
For information about meningitis and septicaemia call the Freefone helpline on 080 8800 3344 or visit www.meningitis.org.
Submitted by Samantha Williams