This Sunday at the Bristol Half Marathon thousands of runners will take to the city’s streets, many of them raising money for charities along the way.
Personally I’ll be cheering on Matt Garner, Spire Bristol Hospital’s Customer Liaison Manager, who is running what will be his first half marathon on behalf of an organisation called Crohn’s and Colitis UK, which aims to improve the lives of people with those diseases.
Not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and colitis both cause inflammation of the bowel and affect some 250,000 people in the UK alone.
For both conditions the severity can fluctuate unpredictably between patients and doctors still have not been able to identify what causes Crohn’s or colitis, although it is highly likely that both genetic and environmental triggers are involved.
Matt is now 35 and has learned to control his condition, but he was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease back in 1995 when he was just 19 and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it had a big impact on his confidence and sadly stopped him doing many things most healthy teenagers do.
Luckily Matt found out about Crohn’s and Colitis UK and says without the charity he would not have been able to cope with what happened to him.
Unfortunately there is currently no cure for either condition but, with organisations like Crohn’s and Colitis UK, and with people like Matt raising awareness of the diseases, there is at least support and information out there so people do not have to suffer in silence.