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Tony's story: completing extreme fitness challenges to honour sister

Tony Diabetes UK


Sister lived with type 1 diabetes.

I want to be a role model, fundraising to help others as well as keeping myself fit.

In early 2011, Tony lost his sister to type 1 diabetes. Here he shares the story of how his loss has led to his extreme challenge to support our work.


Tony's hard experience with diabetes

Seven years ago at Christmas my sister, Debbie, became unwell in hospital while undergoing kidney dialysis. She had type 1 since an early age and she had to deal with the condition all her life.

In the few years before she passed the condition seemed to dramatically change. It resulting in her losing her lower leg due to infection and also other the other complications that type 1 diabetes can bring.

Being the younger brother of two sisters I was ignorant to the condition, I just used to see my sister go into hospital then come out. It wasn’t until later on when my mum thought something was wrong with our Debbie due to her not answering the phone.

It was then I realised how bad the diabetes had become, mum's sixth sense proved to be right again. I went down to check on Debbie and found her in a coma. The response from the emergency services was fantastic and they guided me through recovery information and were there so quickly it saved her life at that point.

Watching my mum tell her to go sleep and watch her take her last breath will be a memory that will stay with me forever.

Then infection after infection from self-dialysis took its toll and on Christmas day 2010, we were told the devastating news. The strain was too much on her heart and organs were failing. Three operations over the Christmas period and a long battle she finally got to rest. On 25 January we got to say our goodbyes. Watching my mum tell her to go sleep and watch her take her last breath will be a memory that will stay with me forever. It is the main memory that spurs me on when I think I cannot do this.


Embracing fitness challenges

I had jokingly mentioned that I would run in my sister's memory for she knew how bad my knees were from football injuries and she just smiled, and so when my mum turned round to me and said I can run for her it was enough. Two days later I found the Manchester 10k was on the 15 May - Debbie's birthday. It seemed so right and then my journey has not stopped.

Thinking of the biggest challenge I could do, I signed up for Ironman, Bolton. If you don’t know the distances, Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike and then 26.2 mile marathon. All in a day. Yes, I am MAD.

I had my 46th birthday and thought it was a good time to start a new challenge. The training alone is a challenge but hopefully I have done enough. Its 3 weeks to the event and I am nervous, I have completed a triathlon already and a half Ironman distance in my training, which I thought would never be possible. It is totally different to marathon training. I thought that was bad but this has completely changed my mindset.

The fun and games of deciding what training to do falls and fails along the way but is all part of the journey.


Feeling like you'd like to take on your own challenge? Find your challenge today

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