I read about Shane’s unbelievable journey and immediately wanted to share his courageous story here in hopes of further helping him to raise awareness for a cause very near and dear to him. Please help me share his story with others in order to make his goals of eczema support and awareness a reality.
Bio: Shane Nicholl is a 23-year-old web developer from Lincoln, England. This year he is running 1000km to raise money for the National Eczema Society, with the hope of raising awareness of eczema. He has chosen to raise money for the National Eczema Society because he has witnessed first-hand the physical and emotional toll these conditions have had on his partner, Jenny, who has been suffering from eczema for the past seven years. Alongside eczema, she also suffers from other skin conditions including atopic dermatitis (and asthma, hayfever, rhinitis), contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, neurodermatitis and urticaria.
Running to the Ends of the Earth for an Eczema Cure
If you had asked me four years ago what Eczema was, I would have said it was a mild skin condition that causes red, itchy wrists. Then I met Jenny. Now, if you were to ask me the same question, my answer would be that it is a debilitating condition that can result in weekly hospital appointments, routine blood tests, weepy skin, infections, and endless amounts of medication. It can leave you housebound for days and at it’s worst it can slowly eat away at your self-esteem and take over your identity.
When Jenny’s condition is at it’s worst I feel completely helpless. Seeing someone you love suffering so much and all you want to do is give them a hug, but knowing you can’t as it would only exacerbate the situation, is heartbreaking. Her urticaria means that we often can’t even share the same bed. Fortunately nowadays we have a spare room I can sleep in, though whilst we were at University this often meant sleeping on the floor as I was reluctant to leave her side should she need me in the morning.
I have witnessed the worst her condition has thrown at her. This past year in particular has been especially grueling with being prescribed several types of immunosuppressants, diagnosed with numerous skin infections and tonsillitis, leading to four bouts of eczema herpeticum. Despite all this she battled through and managed to graduate from University, showing remarkable strength in adversity, which was in turn the inspiration behind my challenge this year. As much time as I spend with her, through both the good and bad times with her skin, I will never truly understand what she is going through. I have come to realize that at times there is very little I can do to help when her skin is bad, other than making her environment as comfortable as possible. It is hard to not feel completely helpless, so I decided I needed to take drastic measures to improve her situation, as I could not sit and watch her suffer any longer. So what could I do? The one thing I knew how to, run.
For as long as I can remember, I was always an overweight child. Although I enjoyed sports at school and played in a football team, I was never particularly active as I suffered with severe Osgood-Schlatters disease, which made any prolonged exercise extremely painful. Eventually it reached the stage where I was 17-years-old and dangerously approaching seventeen stone (238 lbs). Around the same time my older brother had recently taken up running and was training for the 2007 London Marathon. He used to encourage me to come out for runs with him, and whilst I was reluctant at first, I knew some action needed to be taken about my weight. The first run was tough, but gradually with each run it became less and less of a struggle. During my first year at University the commitment of regular running allowed me to lose over five stone (70 lbs) and it has since become a major passion in my life. Taking up running has undeniably helped to change my life and turn me in to a much healthier person, and now I intend to help it change others.
This year I am going to extreme lengths to raise awareness of the extremity of eczema, and how for many it is a chronic condition that has complete control over their life. As a keen runner, I had the intention of raising money for this cause through running, with the initial idea of potentially run the London Marathon. However, the more I thought about the cause, the more I realized how I would have to do something big to stand out from the thousands of other charity runners. This is where the idea of my 1000km challenge was born. Where I would run not one, but six marathons alongside 26 half marathons and 20 -10km races. A year of running, far beyond anything I have done before, that would push my body to the limits and make people more aware of the severity of the condition.
The thought of Jenny going through the emotional and physical pain alone is terrifying, but the scary fact is there are others like her, suffering in similar ways, but without someone by their side to support them. This is why this year my focus is as much about raising awareness of the condition as it is raising money for the charity. I have seen first hand the benefit of Jenny talking to others openly about her condition. I hope my message can reach others to let them know they are not alone with their suffering and that there are people out there doing all they can to help them.
This challenge has been described as me running to the end of the earth to try and find a cure for Jenny and to help her live an ‘ordinary’ life. However much pain my body goes through this year, and I expect to receive multiple injuries, it wouldn’t be a patch on what Jenny goes through on a daily basis. I hope that by the end of my challenge this year to have made a significant impact on people’s lives, and to have opened people’s eyes to the condition. I am not preparing to hang up my running trainers at the end of the year, despite how tempting it may be. For as long as there are people suffering with Eczema and ignorance surrounding the condition, I will be out there running, ‘looking’ for the cure.
Join me in following and supporting Shane on his courageous journey: