'Crazy' Sarah in bid to run half marathon for Lupus charity
PUBLISHED: 14:38 28 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:19 07 September 2010
A BRAVE young woman from West Hampstead who was diagnosed with Lupus disease in February is training to run a half marathon. Sarah Johnston, 20, of Ravenshaw Street, has to spend time in and out of hospital and suffers from painful swollen joints but she
A BRAVE young woman from West Hampstead who was diagnosed with Lupus disease in February is training to run a half marathon.
Sarah Johnston, 20, of Ravenshaw Street, has to spend time in and out of hospital and suffers from painful swollen joints but she is determined not to let the condition prevent her taking part in the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon in October.
She said: "Everyone thinks I'm crazy - just doing this run at all is quite a big thing. But I'd rather make myself really fit so that at least I'm in good condition when the condition flares up. I don't like the fact it has taken over my life. My doctor says I have to be sensible and that I shouldn't run when my body hurts.
"I'm training four times a week at the moment and want to make it five times a week, which is quite intense even for someone who's fit and healthy."
Lupus, or Systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease which means the sufferer's immune system attacks their own cells and tissues.
Ms Johnston started a course in graphic design at Leeds University in September last year but in October she started to get pains in her wrists.
At first she thought it was just the result of a hectic student lifestyle and a strenuous gym routine, but her joints became more inflamed and by Christmas she was unable to walk.
Tests at a hospital confirmed she had Lupus and now she has to take medication every day for the rest of her life. There is also a chance that the disease could claim her life if it ever spreads to her internal organs.
Doctors believe she may have had the disease since she was 15, when she suffered frequently from pneumonia and fatigue. But despite her condition she still attended lectures during her university course and completed her first year with a 2:1 grade.
The disease is 10 times as common in women as in men and is normally much more prevalent among people from black and Asian ethnic backgrounds. It is believed around 50,000 people have the condition in the UK.
Ms Johnston added: "I'm doing this run to prove everyone wrong and I'm trying to stay positive. Lupus affects your whole body. I've given up alcohol, which is quite something for a 20-year-old student. I also want to raise awareness of it because I had never even heard of Lupus six months ago."
Her family, friends and boyfriend are concerned but supportive of her decision to take part in the run - and her cousin has decided to run the half marathon alongside her for support.
Ms Johnston is running to raise cash for the charity Lupus UK - to make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/ sarah-johnston.
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