Local girl takes control after life-changing diagnosis
In 2015 MS Sufferer Gemma Hotchkiss takes on 12 runs, 12 cities in 12 months to raise money for the MS Society
Gemma Hotchkiss, 28 from Wednesbury was diagnosed in 2013 with Multiple Sclerosis after an onslaught of health problems. Some of the problems encountered included double vision, intense migraines, fatigue, depression and 6 nerve palsy.
When told by her MS nurse about the disease modifying treatments available, Gemma learnt that she would have to start injecting herself, she was also told that her optic nerve was damaged and would never properly recover, while the difference in her vision is marginal, she was still very aware of the fact that every time she has a relapse, there is a chance that permanent nerve damage could occur.
Initially scared and overwhelmed, it took Gemma several months to adjust to the reality that she had a very serious illness.
“As I learnt more about the disease I realised that there is no pattern to the illness, it could strike at any time, its unpredictable, it can affect any part of my body and there is nothing I could do about it. I thought about my life and how I had taken my health for granted and decided that there was something I could do, I could make myself as fit and healthy as possible and that whatever happened after that I could deal with because as long as I know I have done everything I can, that is all I can do. ”
It was then that Gemma decided to start running, and with the consultation of her MS nurse and careful planning of rest scheduling her training commenced.
“I decided to take back control of my life, I realised that everyone has the strength within themselves to change and to be happy so that’s what I decided to do, I thought I would start by doing something for charity, to raise some money for the MS Society after a few months after contemplating what to do, I decided to do a fun run with a couple of my friends. I fully committed myself, I downloaded a training plan and put it on my wall, bought myself some new running things and stuck to the plan for 12 weeks, ticking off each run on my plan, there were days when I literally had to drag myself out, fatigued and with a headache, it was difficult, it was very difficult, but slowly I got fitter and healthier and over the weeks that followed I felt stronger both physically and mentally, my confidence grew, my anxiety was less frequently and I started to feel like me again, I started to feel happy that I was not only helping myself but doing something worthwhile to help others in my position or much worse”
Gemma has also been motivated to further develop her own creative business Jurassic Panda, under this name she designs t-shirts, mugs, cards, jewellery and much more.
In 2015 Gemma takes on 12 runs in 12 cities across 12 months, starting this Saturday 10th January in Edinburgh. She is calling out for help with lifts/ train fares between cities, and most importantly of all sponsorship to raise money for the MS Society. You can follow Gemma’s journey on her blog https://gallopingunicorn.wordpress.com/ and sponsor her here at https://www.justgiving.com/GHotchkiss
If you would like to hear more about Gemma’s story or to arrange an interview contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org / 07776 030 517