I am Natalie Crawford, 35 years old from Northampton, defying the odds of living with Cystic Fibrosis. I have two children, Skye-Hope, 9, and Preston, 6.
I was diagnosed with CF at the age of 28 during my pregnancy with Preston. At his 20 week scan, I was told he had meconium ileus, a bowel blockage, which is a marker for CF.
Tests confirmed that not only Preston, but also myself, had CF, a genetic, life limiting condition affecting mainly our lungs and digestive system. Further investigation led to the diagnosis of CF related liver disease in myself and more complications from my childhood misdiagnosis of asthma.
I decided that I would not allow the negative, sad and heart breaking stories shape our journey with CF as I focused on the positive and dedicated every waking moment to our health and well being. I was initially told that I would never reach the standard of fitness needed to train for a half marathon, something I strived to succeed in to inspire others.
Thankfully I am a strong willed character and let nothing stand in the way of my dreams, especially not when I knew I now had two little people looking up at me.
I trained hard and with passion, as my lung function dropped with infection after infection, I trained harder and smarter. I used nutrition and exercise as the weapons against each new bug, and with defiance I finally ran my first half marathon in May 2016.
Three half marathons followed that and I knew it was time to attempt my biggest challenge, a full marathon.
Marathon training was a true test of strength, not only physically, but mentally. The mind set required to carry you through those lonely long runs, was like dancing with the devil and as my lungs screamed at me to give in, I knew i’d come too far to quit.
In October 2017 I ran the Birmingham marathon. I ran strong, and even though it was the hardest challenge I have ever attempted, I loved every one of those 26.2 miles. I ran with enormous gratitude in my heart, feeling blessed that I had been given the opportunity to inspire so many.
I set out with the dream of being the role model my children deserved, to give them the best start in life by leading them towards the path of a healthy way of living, to teach them the importance of wellness, and to arm Preston with the tools he will carry with him as he fights CF until his cure is here.
Health is everything, some of us have to fight that little bit harder to keep it. Living with CF has made me strong, but running has given me a superpower and I will never stop chasing the next goal.
I have shared my marathon journey through a series of blogs on the CF Trust website and update through social media facebook-Natalie Crawford /Instagram-natsy1982
Watch this space as I aim to stay strong for marathon number two next year!