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Reshna's story

I have known that I have Systemic Lupus since December 2001. I had never heard of Lupus and only found out about it when I had my first appointment with my rheumatologist. I have various reoccurring ailments that I always thought were unrelated.

I have damaged both my legs in accidents, so have weak knees. I am mildly asthmatic which means that I am very prone to bronchitis and chest infections. I have arthritis in my shoulders, neck and back which are aggravated by cold weather. I have very sensitive skin, and get rashes on my skin, particularly on my face and chest when I am run down or sometimes when I'm out in the sun for too long. I also have polycystic ovaries. I suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, so tend to be quite tired quite a lot of the time.

I have always tried to maintain a certain level of fitness to make sure that I stay as healthy as I can. I therefore have an active life.

At my first appointment with my rheumatologist he advised me that it was possible that with Lupus, I would not be able to have as active a life; and at times may have to depend on others. Hearing this upset me. I am fiercely independent and wanted to make sure that having Lupus did not stop me from living the life I wanted to live. I was determined to continue to have an active work and social life.

Having Lupus has driven me to become fitter. It has also made me more conscious of what my body is telling me. I am more aware of when I can be very active and when I need to stop and rest. As my fitness has increased, I have set myself goals to work towards. These goals were initially around increasing my stamina, then about building my overall body strength and more recently about toning my muscles. As I got stronger, I decided to look at different challenges to push me and my level of fitness further.

I have always wanted to be able to run, but was put off because of my weak knees. As I became stronger, I decided to look at competitive runs that I could participate in. I started off with a 10km run in September 2002. I found this very difficult, but completed the run and felt a huge sense of achievement. This led me to use my new found fitness to raise money for others. I undertook two 5 km runs and a further
10km run.

By June 2004, I was beginning to feel very comfortable running, so decided to really challenge myself and signed up to run in a half marathon. As this was the longest distance I had tried to run, I decided to use it as an opportunity to raise money for the St Thomas' Lupus Trust. I started training in June, running three to four times a week. Each week I increased my running time by 10 minutes - starting at 30 minutes.

Sadly in July, I became ill and had to stop training for two weeks. However as soon as I was able, I stated to run again, as I was determined to participate in the half marathon.

On the day of the run, I was really scared. The longest distance I have covered in my training was 10 miles. The run was hard as the course was hilly. I was very tired at 6 miles. However, knowing that I had sponsorship money to collect made me determined to complete the run. I managed to complete it in 2 hours and 40 minutes. Although I did not run the whole distance, I had achieved more than I thought I was capable of.

Since then, I have trained for and participated in another half marathon. Unfortunately, I was feeling weak on the day, so it took me 10 minutes longer to complete the course. This has not put me off though; I am determined to continue running and am now considering taking part in the London Marathon in 2006.