I loved maths; it was all I had wanted to do. I went away to university and started my maths degree but in my first year, I fell ill quite suddenly. I remember the doctor saying to me, ‘we need to get you to hospital’. They couldn’t give me a diagnosis. At first, they thought it was meningitis but it was later discovered I had Henoch Schonlein Purpura vasculitis.
I spent three weeks in hospital. The illness attacked my joints; I couldn’t even hold a cup up to my mouth. I spent years on steroids and immunosuppressants and was even wheelchair bound at times, so I couldn’t go back to my studies.
I remember one day my younger sister needed help with her maths homework. That was when I realised I couldn’t do it anymore. I’d had a stroke-like attack which gave me permanent pins and needles down my right side and took away my ability to do maths.
As well as maths, I always had a love of art in school. When I was eventually well enough, I decided to come to the University of Suffolk (Suffolk College an accredited College of UEA) to study Fine Art/History & Theory of Visual Art and even managed to bring my love of maths and numbers into my art practice.
This year I took on seven 100km ultramarathons for Cancer Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society. They were all tough in their own ways, but I never once considered giving up. The Isle of Wight was my first challenge and I completed it in 22.5 hours – it was my first experience of walking through the night, on a coastal path, with just a head torch!
My advice is to take one-step at a time and remember your goals will always be different depending on your situation. I know when I was really ill, just getting from my house to the corner shop would have been almost like doing a marathon. Things might change in life, but you can always find alternatives.