Coeliac UK Changed My Life
It has always been on my bucket list to run a marathon at some point in my life. There are so many amazing worthy causes to support, but until now there hasn’t been one that has truly motivated me to get a place, start training and fulfil this ambition.
In May 2015 I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. Coeliac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease. Gluten – which is found in wheat, barley and rye – triggers an immune reaction in people with Coeliac Disease. This means that eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine. Untreated coeliac can have serious consequences and has links with other diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes and bowel cancer.
Looking back, for as long as I can remember in my life, I have had unexplained illnesses, symptoms and issues. I underwent numerous tests but unfortunately most came back as inconclusive. Insomnia, countless burning rashes and agonising swellings over my body as a child, growth problems, trouble concentrating through teenage years to collapsing and crippling stomach problems as an adult. Despite always eating healthily and exercising regularly, my weight fluctuated unexplainably and sometimes I was not able to leave the house for days due to needing the toilet.
I lost count of the amount of times I had gone to a doctor who advised me to “Keep a food diary and just try eliminating” or offered me medication – none of which worked. Over the years it seemed I had tried everything. It was so hopeless and devastatingly frustrating as the symptoms always came back no matter what I did.
Nevertheless, I had learnt to deal with my situation, cover it up and vowed never to let it hold me back. I trained as a professional dancer and graduated in 2009 with a BA(Hons). Since then, I have followed my dreams, enabling me to travel the world through my performance career, transitioning into entertainment and production management in the industry.
Whilst living abroad my career was rapidly gaining pace – however so were my secret health problems. At worst, I was spending hours at a time in the toilet, hospitalised numerous times due to ‘suspected appendicitis’, vomiting violently, collapsing and having agonising abnormal stomach swellings comparing to the size of a pregnant woman at full term. It became harder and harder to try and hide the problem that I knew was underlying.
During a scan at hospital, I was told my intestines were so swollen that it was impossible to see my womb and that my lymph nodes were extremely swollen. My immune system was terrible, it seemed I was constantly ill – picking up viruses and infections every few weeks.
Returning to the UK, I vowed to myself I would try everything in my power to find out what was wrong and make it stop. My sister was getting married later that year and when the time came to try on bridesmaid dresses I knew we would have to go for something ‘loose and floaty’ – just incase my stomach decided to swell up on the day. When driving to try on the dresses, I had agonising pains in my stomach that I could only describe like being stabbed over and over by a knife. I was sobbing my heart out, crying, as I panicked I wouldn’t make it to the toilet in time. Situations like these began to happen more and more frequently and I soon realised my problem was controlling my life and I couldn’t let that happen anymore.
Thankfully, there was a major turning point in my life when I noticed the campaign for Coeliac Awareness Week.
At 28 years old, I had never even heard of Coeliac Disease, nor had anyone ever mentioned to me that there was a possibility my symptoms could point to it. Reading the symptoms check list, there was no doubt in my mind that I had it. I have never been so relieved when my test came back positive.
Since May 2015, my life has completely changed in an unbelievable way. Living with the autoimmune disorder as a lactose intolerant coeliac, I have had to completely eliminate dairy and gluten from my diet. With further food intolerances and allergies to eggs, onions and black pepper – I had to eliminate them too. At first it was challenging, and knowing I had been damaging my body for 28 years was hard to accept at first – but the variety of symptoms I had been experiencing my entire life disappeared as I changed my diet. As well as losing 2 and a half stone, I found that I had more energy than I ever thought possible – feeling slow and lethargic was all I had ever known my whole life!
I have been described as a chronic coeliac but some people can have the disease but show absolutely no symptoms, which is terrifying! It’s absolutely shocking to know that over half a million people are living with Coeliac Disease but they have no idea they have it and are completely unaware of the damage they are doing to their bodies.
I owe my new found health to this charity and I am willing to do as much as I can to raise money for them. I used to be so embarrassed about my past symptoms, but now I don’t mind sharing my story with the world If it means there is a chance of helping someone else! I don’t want others to go through what I have gone through.
I have never ran a marathon before – but I am dedicating the next 4 months of my life to train for it! I am running this to raise awareness, hopefully to inspire others to do the same, but also to give something back to Coeliac UK. When I run the marathon in May it will have been a year since I heard about this amazing charity – who’s work I have benefited from in an unimaginable way. I owe everything to them. It is a small charity but it does amazing work; helping people from initial diagnosis, teaching them, running support groups and campaigning to raise awareness.
I really appreciate you reading this far. I know lots of people ask for sponsorship at this time of year, all for fantastic causes. Coeliac UK is a tiny charity in comparison to many of them. Coeliac UK is entirely charity funded and receive no government funding. If you feel you can spare anything at all, I would be so grateful.
Please dig deep! It will help me through the frosty nights training and make it all worthwhile. I want to run through the finish line feeling like I have accomplished something positive after all the years of hell I went through to get my diagnosis. I want to absolutely smash my target and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
Please sponsor me by going to
You can also donate via text message using JustTextGiving service! All you need to do is text KADB87 with the £amount you want to donate to 70070.