Over the course of the past year Sophie Mullins planned to take on every event in the Great Run series as well the Loch Ness Marathon, just for fun. All this despite being told she was medically allergic to exercise.
“On the surface, in 2011, I was the fittest I had ever been and running faster than I ever had but underneath there was something wrong. Half the time I felt great, half the time I felt grotty. In addition to a general sense of malaise there were periods of crisis: I would end up in A&E with agonising stomach pains and/or severe hypotension. My list of symptoms (bone & muscle pain, stomach aches, vomiting, dizziness, sinusitis, fatigue, osteopenia, low blood sugar, weight loss, suddenly swollen hands and feet, wheezing…) left the doctors nonplussed and I was diagnosed with everything from chronic fatigue to gastritis”
Almost a year passed before Sophie was eventually diagnosed with mastocytosis and told she would never run again. Mastocytosis means that an individual has too many mast cells and that they are very unstable. When the mast cells degranulate blood pressure drops dramatically and the individual can get a life threatening allergic reaction. Things that can trigger degranulation include perfumes, various foods and exercise.
Overtime and with the help of her specialist and UK support group Sophie was able to gradually begin to get back to doing what she loved. “The thing is that running makes me a happier person, and I think a better one. So I decided to start building up my strength with weight training before trying to run again. At first the running was horrible but gradually things have improved. I have developed strategies to keep my mast cells calm, as long as I'm careful they don't throw the toys out the pram...”
Sufferers of mastocytosis have a higher chance of developing blood cancers including Mast Cell Leukaemia (MCL). It was at this point in which Sophie became involved with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. “Slowly I went from running to training and wondering about the possibility of racing again. It was then I saw that Vodafone JustText Giving were holding a competition to run all of the Great Runs (they would sort the entries, travel and accommodation) for a charity of your choice. Writing my story was hard, choosing my charity was not. I remembered all too clearly my distress on learning the short, short life expectancy of MCL and knew I wanted to do anything I could to boost research”.
Sophie was selected as one of the winners of the competition and so began her challenge to take on 6 cities, 7 races and one amazing challenge. October will take in the Great Birmingham and Great South runs and the completion of Sophie’s challenge.
Sophie is yet another example of an Unstoppable fundraiser who has overcome great obstacles to raise both money and awareness for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
You can read more of Sophie’s journey over the past few months on her blog profile here.
Or donate via her JustGiving page
Great Manchester Run (10K)
Great North 10K
Great Edinburgh Run (10K)
Great North Run (half marathon)
Great Yorkshire (10K)
Great Birmingham Run (half marathon)
Great South Run (10 miles)
Loch Ness Marathon