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Kilimanjaro Challenge

Facing the challenge of Kilimanjaro and Fibromyalgia for a second time

An account of an extraordinary personal journey with Fibromyalgia as a constant companion

After an initial failed attempt and despite suffering from the symptoms of the little known, but life-altering illness; Fibromyalgia, I endured the pain of mountain sickness and extreme fatigue for a second time to successfully climb to the very summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Hopefully going some way to raise funds and awareness for this much-overlooked condition.
In 2002 I made my first attempt to reach the summit of mount Kilimanjaro but was unsuccessful.  I did, however, raise over £1000 for the Charity NCH and I made a promise to myself to return to the highest freestanding mountain in the world for a second attempt.

Shortly after returning from Africa I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, an illness that I had previously never heard of. 
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition of widespread pain and profound fatigue, which I had come to accept as part of my normal day.

I am now only 25 years old but I have been suffering with the symptoms of this life-altering illness for nearly eight years, and in that time have received treatment costing close to ten thousand pounds. In all that time not once was Fibromyalgia mentioned! Why?  It truly worries me that this condition took 6 years to diagnose.

As I researched the illness in a bid to learn more, I became extremely disheartened as I saw how little was known about this condition. No one seems to know what Fibromyalgia really is! and, even worse, nobody knows what causes it.  Treatment seemed to consist of all the things I had already tried.
Fibromyalgia to me almost seems to be an underground illness. As the more I speak about the illness to others, the more I would hear of fellow sufferers. It was clear that to improve the research and understanding of Fibromyalgia, greater awareness was required.
I decided I could help to do this by raising sponsorship for my second attempt on the mountain with all proceeds going to research into Fibromyalgia. 
Unfortunately, despite concentrated efforts to gain a corporate sponsor, no one seemed interested in sponsoring an almost unknown charity.

In my quest for backing I found that Companies seemed to choose the more popular charities for their sponsorship, when it’s always the unknowns that really need the help.

I now felt so strongly about Fibromyalgia that my corporate sponsorship came from my very own company, a company that I had only set up roughly a year ago. Due to the nature of my illness I found it impossible to work a normal 9 to 5 job and self-employment was my best option.  

I sponsored myself £250, which may not sound a lot but represented my first pay cheque after 16 months of work designing and promoting my accommodation website business. ( www.thetravelhost.com )


In outright defiance of my condition, I returned to Mount Kilimanjaro in July of this year and at 7:56am on the 15th July 2004 I stood at the closest point on earth to the sun. The very summit of the highest freestanding mountain in the world.  Having endured pain and fatigue like I have never felt before, my body was exhausted beyond words, and my mental state a scramble of hurt and euphoria.

At roughly 8:00am the camera shutter closed capturing the moment. The single most important reason that had given me the strength to achieve my aim. The reason I had climbed to 5895m above sea level, the reason I had endured severe pain and fatigue to return to the mountain for the second time. I had accomplished the object of my very personal challenge.
I had vowed to myself to have a photo taken at the very summit, standing below the sign announcing my achievement, wearing a Fibromyalgia Association t-shirt, a charity that I had become very attached to, a charity that helps and supports people diagnosed with the continuing pain of the very much misunderstood Fibromyalgia, people like me!  

Hopefully what I have achieved will go some way to show other sufferers that Fibromyalgia is a challenge, and a challenge to be accepted.  When I stood on the top of my mountain, I hadn’t just beaten the mountain! I had beaten Fibromyalgia!

It seems that before I could raise a significant amount of money for research into Fibromyalgia, I needed to raise awareness. To raise awareness I needed publicity, to get publicity I needed a “stunt”.  Taking Fibromyalgia to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro seemed like a good idea, I really wish it hadn’t hurt so much, I hope it was worth it.

Now I’m hoping to gain some publicity from my event to help raise awareness for this illness.

The full story of my Kilimanjaro climb can be found at http://www.thetravelhost.com/travelogue_kili_2.php

To find out more about Fibromyalgia please visit http://www.fibromyalgia-associationuk.org

Contact Richard on -   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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