Local runner determined to fight on

2011-05-28 00:00

AFTER completing the Comrades Marathon five times, this year could be a local woman’s last.

Forty-five-year-old Gisele Anderson may have multiple sclerosis (MS), which could put a stop to her competing in marathons in future. However, that has not put a damper on her determination.

Anderson collapsed in October last year and according to her sister, Sharon Lewis, “was left virtually disabled”. The attack left Anderson with no sense of balance and blurred vision, which made walking difficult. It took her three months before she was able to return to her training.

Doctors were unable to confirm a diagnosis, but say that Anderson has scarring on her brain consistent with MS.

MS is a disease which affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes the body’s immune system to attack the fatty sheaths surrounding the nerves, and this prevents the nerves from properly transmitting signals.

The disease does not have a cure, but there are treatments which help. However, Anderson says she is holding off going on any medication at the moment.

Lewis says one of the main concerns is that the treatment will have a negative effect on Anderson’s running. Her running may also come to a halt if she has MS, as it affects motor co-ordination. “This could be her last race,” says Lewis.

However, Anderson says that she will continue to look on the bright side. “I’m not happy to accept [that I have MS] until it’s confirmed through a spinal tap,” she says.

In the meantime, Anderson is focusing on preparing for this year’s race. She has been running for the last nine years.

“It’s been quite a journey,” she says. In 2005 she was injured in a car accident, but came out fighting and competed in the Comrades only six months later. She also won the Sani Pass Marathon in 2005.

“Running helps me feel well again by focusing my energy on being healthy and fit rather than the doom and gloom of being ill,” says Anderson.

This fighting spirit has kept her training for the 2011 race, despite a dizzy spell two weeks ago.

“It was heart wrenching,” says Anderson of the latest attack, “but it was only for a minute or two.”

She has set her mind to completing the Comrades, even after the setbacks in her health.

“Although my time is going to be slower this year, I will finish.”

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