ME sufferer steps up in charity challenge | Worthing Herald | 18 August 2016

From the Worthing Herald, 18 August 2016. Story by Isabella Cipirska. (Online link not found).

13494884_574591409390831_9034374165643713157_nA former teaching assistant, who suffers from a debilitating illness that has at times left her bedridden has completed her year-long fundraising challenge to walk 250,000 steps – one for every sufferer in the UK.

Alison Woodland, 27, of Loxwood Avenue, Worthing, was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), a condition causing extreme fatigue which has no known cure, in 2009.

Her challenge to walk one step for each quarter of a million sufferers in the UK has raised more than £1,000 for the ME Association, over four times her original target,

Alison said: “I have really enjoyed doing it. I needed something that I already do on a day-to-day basis so that it didn’t have a negative effect on my health, something simple that everyone can identify with. It has come with some unexpected challenges – I did not expect there to be days when I was walking too slowly for the pedometer to count my steps!

“I couldn’t wait to get to the finish line, the moment I has been working towards for 58 weeks finally happened. I don’t think this smile will be coming off my face for a long time.”

The former Sussex U-18 table tennis player became ill with what seemed to be a flu-like virus in 2008, but was only diagnosed with ME after nine months of exhaustion, weakness, breathlessness and a high heart rate.

“I had very mixed emotions when I was first diagnosed. Part of me was very relieved to finally have a name for it after a year of tests and appointments and the other part of me felt daunted by it, as I knew there was no real ‘fix’ and a lot of uncertainty lay ahead,” she said.

The former Chichester college student was left so weak by everyday tasks that she struggled to get out of bed, go to the bathroom without help and felt too ill to read a book.

Sue Woodland, 63, Alison’s mother, said: I am so proud of her effort and determination in finishing the challenge.”

Symptoms of ME, which is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, can vary daily and include muscular and joint pain, severe headaches and utter overwhelming exhaustion. The cause of the illness is unknown.

The ME Association raises funds for research into the condition and supports sufferers and their families.

Helen Hyland, the fund-raising manager at the ME Association, said: “Alison is one of our fundraising heroines. Thank you Alison for such a magnificent effort.”