A Thurlby woman is set to embark on a gruelling charity double header next weekend – earning her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, then running the London marathon the very next day.
The feat would challenge the very best of athletes, but for Jeanine Helliwell, 47, it’s an even tougher challenge – she only started running in November and has a stoma, and has to receive her nutrition though a tube called a Hickman line rather than eating meals.
The mum of two said: “People have said I am crazy for putting myself through this,but I wanted to prove to my family and friends that I am not ready for the scrapheap just yet, despite the huge health setbacks I have faced in recent years.
“I hope my efforts will help me as well as inspiring others.”
Jeanine, who is a regular patient of the gastro team at Peterborough City Hospital, was a non-runner until November, and only started pounding the pavements in a bid to improve her fitness levels while she pursued Tae Kwon Do.
She said: “I started with a fast-track ‘Couch to 5km’ running plan and initially I didn’t enjoy it, but now I have completed 20 miles.
“But running isn’t really the issue – Tae Kwon Do is much more challenging. Obviously, I have to protect my Hickman line and stoma, but Annabel Murcott from the Schools of Tae Kwon Do has been amazing.
“She’s been very supportive, very understanding and very encouraging.
“I have taken advice from the medical director of the London Marathon as they have not had a runner with such an arrangement before, so we are making plans to make this happen.
“As a result I will run the marathon with two litres of intravenous nutrition and a pump in a rucksack on my back.”
Jeanine will be raising money for two charities as she competes her challenges – Crohn’s and Colitis UK and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) services at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals.
She said: “I have received lots of good care over the years so I want to give something back.
“I’d like the cash to go towards specialist nurse training to enable an IBD nurse to run their own clinics and widen the service for patients. “
Anyone inspired by Jeanine’s story can donate at her fundraising page – https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jeaninehelliwell and support the cause.