A Harrogate mum is training hard to take on the Great North Run - in a bid to beat chronic disease Ulcerative Colitis for good.
Beckie Oakley, 30, was diagnosed with the condition 12 years ago, and required surgery at Harrogate District Hospital last year to remove her large intestine.
Colitis is a long-term condition affecting the colon.
It causes weight loss and can leave the sufferer with ‘invisible’ symptoms, such as intense and lasting abdominal pain.
Mother-of-two Beckie decided she would take on the September half marathon when surrounded by family on her hospital bed.
She explained: “The nine-hour operation to remove my large intestine ultimately saved my life.
“Ulcerative Colitis stripped me of my dignity and my ability to enjoy life.
“It also very nearly left my children without a mother.
“I then had to wear an ileostomy bag for months, but at that point I was just glad to be alive.
“I then underwent another operation to reverse the ileostomy bag so I no longer had to wear it.
“During the time I was ill and having surgeries last year, I was bed bound and unable to walk.
“It was my aim once I was well enough to do something to help those sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease who struggle every single day.”
Colitis can affect people of any age. Symptoms come and go,. and can cause the sufferer great discomfort as well as embarrassment.
Beckie is raising money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
And with her family right behind her, she is looking forward to the challenge,
She said: “I started training in December, when I could barely run for a minute at a time.
“But I’ve been building it up, and I go out three or four times a week now.
“Every time I feel like stopping I think of sitting in that hospital bed.
“I just feel so grateful that I am in a position now where I can raise awareness and try to at least reduce some of the stigma attached to the condition.
“It is a massive challenge for me, but my family have been so supportive.”
Beckie talked about living with the condition: “People don’t talk about it.
“As a young woman the thing I really struggled with was the embarrassment.
“I have put details of my challenge on Facebook and lots of people have messaged me.
“There are so many more sufferers out there than we know about.”
Crohn’s and Colitis UK is a website offering support and information for those living with the condition, and their families and friends.
Support Beckie’s effort. Click here to donate