Jeanine's marathon effort for hospital gastro services

Jeanine Helliwell cropped.png
Jeanine Helliwell

A patient with Crohn’s Disease, who relies upon intravenous nutrition to keep her alive, will tackle two gruelling fundraising challenges within two days later this month to raise funds to support the services that have helped her.

Mum-of-two Jeanine Helliwell from Thurlby near Bourne, Lincolnshire, will attempt to earn her black belt in Tae Kwon Do at a grading event in Bristol on 21 April and then will hop on a train to London to take her place in the London Marathon the next day.

For most athletes this would be a tall order, but for Jeanine it’s an even bigger deal as she only started running in November, has a stoma and receives her nutrition through a tube called a Hickman line, rather than eating meals.

She said: “During Tae Kwon Do I have to protect my Hickman line and stoma. I will run the marathon with two litres of intravenous nutrition and a pump in a rucksack on my back. I have taken advice from the Medical Director of the London Marathon as they have not had a runner participate with this arrangement before. I may need to top up with an extra bag of fluids at some point on the course, so we are making plans to allow this to happen.”

Jeanine, who is a regular patient of the gastro team at Peterborough City Hospital, was a non-runner before November 2017, but took it up to help improve her fitness levels while she pursued Tae Kwon Do. She added: “I started with a fast-track ‘Couch to 5k’ running plan and initially I didn’t enjoy it, but now I have completed 20 miles. I was able to get a marathon place thanks to the charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK, so I plan to split the money I raise between them and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) services at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals where I have received lots of good care over the years.”

She added: “People have said I am crazy for putting myself through this, but I wanted to prove to my friends and family that I am not ready for the scrapheap, despite the huge health setbacks I have faced in recent years. I can become unwell really fast, but by improving my fitness I can bounce back more quickly, so I hope my charity efforts will help me as well as others.”

Jeanine wants the cash she raises for the hospital to be used for specialist nurse training to enable a trainee IBD nurse to run their own clinics and widen the service for patients. She also hopes it will help fund the purchase of some specialist mobile equipment used to guide Hickman lines and other intravenous lines into position, which will reduce the need for patients to have a procedure in an operating theatre instead.

Gill Anderson, IBD Specialist Nurse, said: “We are in awe of Jeanine. She is an inspirational lady who is determined that her condition does not get in the way of her goals. We are hugely grateful to her for helping us improve services for our patients. We wish her well for her big weekend and can’t wait to hear how it went.”

If you are inspired by Jeanine’s story, please take a look at her fundraising page and support the cause. Every £ donated via BTdonate, is being matched by a kind donor. The money raised by Jeanine will be split between CCUK and IBD services at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals.

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