Suddenly and dramatically impacted by a medical condition called sarcoidosis, Brenda shares how parkrun Meadowvale provides structure to her weekly run commitment. And that’s just the start of the benefits of parkrun
Running has meaning for everyone. For me? I felt embarrassingly slow, uncoordinated. I had memories of stumbling – parched – over my grade school’s scrubby yard. I hated how it felt to be the last in the class to finish a lap. Why would I choose to run?
I wish my self-consciousness issues would have remained so simple in fall of 2017, when I was diagnosed with an inflammatory condition called sarcoidosis. It most commonly affects the lungs, but for me, I developed a granuloma, or hardened mass of tissue, in my left eye socket. It wasn’t painful, and luckily my vision wasn’t impacted; but the whole area around my eye was ridiculously puffy. Socially, it felt very hard to have this disfigurement happen to me: some strange condition I had never heard of, that inexplicably came out of nowhere.
I went on various medicines to get the puffiness under control. With the prescriptions came the side effects – one of them being weakened bones. My doctor advised me to start exercising to strengthen my bones.
My first thought was cycling – but, a fall off a bike would be a problem with weak bones.
Improbably. I start running.
Little did I know at the time my lonely and slow walk-run-gasping would spark an incredible passion. Little did I know that running for bone density would turn into running for confidence, running for a positive mental outlook, and running to open a whole new community of like-minded people. So much more than what I had ever hoped to get, when I started.
One foot in front of the other, right?
Today: I am off the medicine that weakens bone. The puffiness has subsided, but I am left with scar tissue that prevents my eye from opening fully. But, in my heart, I feel I may be healthier than ever – given my new perspective on the importance of my diet and exercise choices. Every day gives is a new chance to make better, healthier decisions.
I ran a local 10K race, and was jazzed by the group experience. But, a race is largely a shared experience with strangers.
And then, another improbable thing occurred – I found parkrun.
parkrun is an experience with a community – your local community; people who have made a weekly commitment to healthy choices in their lives. I love that parkrun welcomes everyone, in all shapes and sizes: the walkers, the runners, the dog owners, the families. All making a commitment to get that little bit better personally.
In a simple way, parkrun gives me weekly structure to my run commitment. But the most valuable aspect is connecting and sharing with like-minded people. New to running, I value all the insights I gain from my fellow parkrunners. And our volunteers are truly amazing: I appreciate them cheering us on, all though the snow of winters and drizzle of spring. parkrun volunteers rock!
One reason I am sharing my story is that April is sarcoidosis awareness month. As a so-called “sarc warrior,” I wanted to share how taking a chance on running, and sticking with it, has added richness and positivity to what could have been an incredibly depressing turn of events for me.
I will also share my dream – my last “improbability” – that a cure for chronic sarcoidosis can be found in my lifetime. Even if that does not happen, I have parkrun to look forward to every Saturday – where everyone is welcome, no matter what their condition or appearance. It is just taking that one step at a time.
#parkrun #sarcoidosis #SarcoidosisAwarenessMonth #StopSarc #StopSarcoidosis #MentalHealth #sarcoidosisuk #FSR
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