From a young age, one day I knew I would be diagnosed with some form of arthritis. My brother was diagnosed and suffered with Juvenile Chronic Arthritis at a very young age. This led to the assumption that one day I would also show some signs of arthritis due to the strong genetic link through siblings.
As a youngster I was very active in the realm of sports. Captain of the basketball team at my school as well as the County club Thames Valley Tigers. I also went through the rankings in both Taekwondo as well as Karate achieving blackbelts in both. 3rd Dan Blackbelt in Karate and 2nd Dan Blackbelt in Taekwondo. I suffered many injuries throughout training in both the martial arts as well as basketball. These injuries masked the underlying severity of the arthritis coursing through my body. One day I had a particularly bad ‘injury’ which hospitalized me. This was the beginning of the end for my active sports careers.
After extensive tests and visits from specialists from all around the country I was told I had Ankylosing Spondylitis. My world began to crumble around me. Everything I had worked so hard for slipped away like a distant memory. Through the darkness, I began to see the light. Embracing my disease and fighting with every ounce of my being. I used the pain as motivation to achieve something great.
I went back to college so that I was able to go to University to study Chemistry specializing in genetics. Now, 2 years in, I am almost thankful for my disease. It showed me that there was more to me that even I knew. The strength, the hope, the fight. Everyday is a struggle but I know that one day I will make a difference for all of us.
I can leave you with the quote that changed my world: ‘Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one’ – Bruce Lee
Leicester, England, United Kingdom