My twin sister and I were born 11 weeks prematurely. I weighed a tiny 2lbs 10oz, and my sister even less! We were ‘lucky’ to survive back then but, when I was 18 months old, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy affecting my legs. I've had to learn to walk 3 times in my life – the first time when I was 6 years old, then twice more as a teenager following major surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
After the surgery I had as a teenager, I also became very unwell with ME (chronic fatigue syndrome). I was exhausted and in pain every day and could barely leave the house or have a social life – let alone work. My health has improved a lot since then, but I still use crutches and sometimes a wheelchair, and walking takes a lot of effort for me.
That's why I've decided to take on the challenge of walking 10km in 10 days with my friends and family around where I live in Burgess Hill, starting on 10 September. It’ll be the furthest I've ever walked in that period of time, and a challenge to keep moving each day, but it feels worth it to be raising funds for Tommy’s.
Why I'm supporting Tommy’s
Over the past couple of years, I've raised money for other people with Cerebral Palsy, but this time round I've decided to support Tommy’s for a few different reasons.
Apart from the fact I was a premature baby myself, my sister and several loved ones have experienced the devastation of miscarriage and baby loss. I also recently discovered that my chances of having a baby are extremely unlikely.
I’ve always wanted to be a mother – so, after everything I’ve been through, it’s been especially devastating and brought up a lot of feelings about all the other things in my life that have been so challenging. It’s felt a bit like the last straw for me; it’s been heartbreaking and still feels very raw.
Grief like this feels so unresolvable and I have a new, deeper empathy for those dealing with such loss – as well as gratitude for charities that do such important work to support people through some of the hardest things imaginable.
Raising money doesn’t make the pain better for me or anyone going through such awful news, but it does help make a positive difference. So, as I grieve and do my best to heal, I want to try and do some good. I want to walk for the babies I will likely never have, for those gone too soon, and for the ones fighting for their lives.
Anna is hoping to raise £5,000 for Tommy’s. You can sponsor her on her JustGiving page, here.