James’ Story

Get a move on

A diagnosis may get in the way of your exercise regimen, but it doesn’t have to tank it completely. Here are the inspirational stories of two patients who didn’t let WG sap their desire to stay very active.

James, Ironman

James, 35, of Johannesburg,South Africa, had done a few triathlons before being diagnosed with WG in 2004. He continued to bike during treatment, working up to 3-day stage mountain bike races. “I firmly believe that exercise has been hugely instrumental in my good health since diagnosis,” he says. “I was having a sinus operation almost every two months like clockwork. Now that I’m active, I haven’t had one since August 2009!”

In remission for four years and eager for a challenge, he consulted his doctor – and his wife — about moving to a tougher event. They agreed on the Half Ironman: a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run. The effort paid off with a strong finish — 617th out of 2,400 racers. James’ performance even became the subject of a feature story in Triathlon magazine.

He’d love to do another big race, but for now he’s staying focused on “regular” exercise – and he encourages others with WG to do the same. “I cannot overstate the importance of exercise,” he asserts. “It focuses your mind on a goal and keeps you from the depths of self-pity. It is hard to exercise, but break through the initial week or so and it gets better and easier. Nothing is out of reach!”

Published: March 2011

To read more stories, please visit the Vasculitis Stories landing page.