The first time I heard of lupus was, like many other people, on the popular TV series House. I was quite a fan of the show and owned the DVDs, but it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I made friends with someone who had lupus; Heather.
Heather and I met each other during the first week of our time as undergraduates at the University of Leicester through a mutual friend in my halls. Over the next few months we would spend a lot of our free time together as a tightly knit group. We shared a similar taste in music and would often discuss concerts seeing bands like Stereophonics and watch Indiana Jones movies on our friend’s TV.
It wasn’t long before Heather’s health took a turn for the worse. Her lupus caused haemolytic anaemia, meaning that she regularly needed blood transfusions at the hospital. She began sharing a room with her best friend, Kayleigh, so that she had someone to help her manage but she struggled very badly with fatigue and missed most of her lectures. She would still always have a smile on her face and enjoyed relaxing amongst company.
Heather spent the first weekend of February 2008 in Leicester Royal Infirmary, which wasn’t too unusual for her at this point. Sadly she suffered a very severe flare of her lupus which didn’t respond to treatment. On Tuesday 5th February (Pancake Day that year) Kayleigh told me that she had passed away.
Losing Heather had a profound effect on my life; I decided I wanted to join the fight against lupus. I started fundraising for LUPUS UK by taking part in running events and then not long after my graduation I began volunteering on a part-time basis. In October 2011 I was offered a full-time position with the charity and I have been here ever since. My role has evolved somewhat from when I first started here and just recently I became the Deputy CEO. It means so much to me to be a part of this wonderful charity that supports people affected by lupus and funds medical research so that hopefully in the future sad occurrences like this won’t happen again.
To mark the 10th anniversary of Heather’s “Angel Day” I will be completing ten half marathons in 2018, in costume, all to raise funds and awareness for LUPUS UK. Please look out for me in my wolf costume and purple LUPUS UK running vest at;
Brentwood Half Marathon – March 18th
Colchester Half Marathon – March 25th
Norwich Half Marathon – April 15th
Milton Keynes Half Marathon – May 7th
Hackney Half Marathon – May 20th
Wimbledon Half – June 3rd
Clacton Half Marathon – August 19th
Great East Run (Ipswich Half Marathon) – September 16th
Luton Half Marathon – October 28th
Grand Union Canal Half Marathon – November 11th
If you are able to spare anything towards sponsoring my fundraising challenge, please go to my Justgiving page;
Deputy CEO, LUPUS UK