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10 April 2015, 06:00
A Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patient from Halfway is in training to run Sheffield’s Half Marathon to inspire other CF sufferers to get fit and active and also to raise money for Sheffield Hospitals Charity to support the centre that provides her care at the Northern General Hospital.
Twenty seven year-old actress and drama teacher, Gabriella Ashcroft has to take medication, roughly 30 tablets every day and also has to eat a high calorie diet, undergo daily physiotherapy and use her nebuliser several times a day to help keep her CF under control.
CF, which has no cure, mainly affects the lungs and digestive system and the condition means that Gabriella is also prone to infection which often results in long stays at Sheffield’s Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre at the Northern General.
Although originally diagnosed when she was just four months old, last year Gabriella was devastated to learn that her lung function had reduced by a massive 20 per cent and the thought of losing that capacity and being unable to regain it hit her really hard.
She had always been fit and used to swim and run for the City of Sheffield and compete in biathlons, taking the title of the Yorkshire and Humberside biathlon champion for four years before going on to come second in the nationals. However, due to increased bouts of illness and having to spend long periods in hospital, it was difficult to build and maintain her fitness.
Gabriella was determined not to let the CF beat her and this was all the motivation she needed to sign up for the Yorkshire Half Marathon on 12 April to improve her fitness and to raise money for Sheffield Hospitals Charity in support of the CF centre that is such a huge part of her life.
'Last year my health reached an all-time low but I refuse to let it beat me, I wanted to prove to myself and other CF sufferers that with hard work and resilience you can come out the other side better.
'The CF Centre where I stay when admitted to hospital, and have done since I was 16, is a cause close to my heart. The staff are like my extended family. They understand the complexity and difficulties we encounter with CF and the quality of care is second to none.
'This is what you need when you can spend as much as three months of every year in hospital. I feel really lucky to have this team behind me and I hope my story inspires other CF sufferers to get fit too. CF is a massive part of my life but I'll never let it define me..”
Ruth Block, fundraiser at Sheffield Hospitals Charity said:
'Gabriella is undertaking a huge challenge and I’m sure her story will be an inspiration to others CF sufferers or other long-term conditions.
'The money she raises will go the CF Centre to help other patients like herself who often have to spend long periods of time there so it’s vital that it’s a home from home. The money Gabriella raises will help to fund additional support that NHS funding doesn’t cover, such as a dedicated CF dietitian to support patients and specialist gym equipment, all of which help support their long-term health.”
If you would like to support Gabriella visit her JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/Gabriella-Ashcroft/ you can also donate £5 to support those in Sheffield and the surrounding region with CF by texting HOSPITAL5 TO 70660.
Texts cast £5 plus network charge. Sheffield Hospitals Charity receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission. Customer Care 0844 847 9800. Registered Charity No. 1059043.