Taking on the Great North Run, widely acknowledged as the world’s greatest half-marathon, is no mean feat but, like thousands of others, Jayne decided that this would be her year to take it on. Here she explains why.
My daughter, Olivia, who is now 15, started being unwell around the beginning of 2021 with vague, non-specific symptoms. Bit of pain here, feeling slightly off another day, losing her appetite, things that you don’t think much of.
Eventually around August/September we went to the GP who did some tests and found her liver functions to be deranged, particularly her Alt. Eventually we were referred to the paediatric department at our local hospital who did serial tests on Olivia and were perplexed by the results. My husband was the first person to suggest that she probably had auto immune hepatitis (he’s a doctor).
Shortly after, we were referred to Leeds and by December Olivia was having her liver biopsy which in fact confirmed AIH type I.
Olivia was started on medication immediately and fortunately seems to have responded well. Her LFT’s have remained stable and she has been well in herself. And although initially she had to go to the hospital for bloods every week and to Leeds every six weeks, now we are being monitored and have six monthly appointments.
As with any teenager in this position, it is difficult to say how it’s affected her mentally. It is something she doesn’t like to talk about. Sometimes she is ok, sometimes she seems angry. Whether this is the illness or just normal teenage years it’s hard to say.
As a parent it’s so difficult to be confronted with the fact that your child has an illness that is treatable but not curable, and that could potentially shorten their life span. The overall feeling of hopelessness is overwhelming. I heard about CLDF when Olivia was at Leeds. Seeing other children with far more advanced liver disease than Olivia was heartbreaking. Hence why I felt compelled to raise awareness and do my little bit towards a worthy cause that might raise awareness and hopefully help children like Olivia.
I chose the Great North Run because it looked fun, it’s well known and would be a good way to raise money and sponsorship. I had my training plan which I pretty much stuck to and when the day finally came, I have to say I had the best day – I absolutely loved it I would definitely do it again – I might even try a marathon!
When your child is diagnosed with a liver disease, you do feel really powerless but fundraising is a great way of doing something positive for a cause you really care about and I would highly recommend the Great North Run as a way of doing so. The atmosphere is amazing, the number of people on the streets encouraging are amazing, it’s a huge festivity, it is so much more than just a race.