I have known Janine (aka: Jin, Mrs Bowring, JOB) since the day after she was born!
My family lived next to her parents in Wales and when her mum brought baby Janine home from the hospital I was one of the first to have a cwtch. Janine and her sisters Hannah and Caroline are like little cousins to me and while not officially family are definitely part of my welsh family.
Janine's life has had it's ups and downs and I was so happy for her when she met the love of her life, Matt. Diagnosed with a really serious disease that nearly cost her life, Janine fought back, determined not to let it beat her just as her life was going so well. Beat it she did and while still having regular chemotherapy treatment to keep the symptoms of her rare disease at bay she dedicates her time to helping other people battle through illness while also raising funds and awareness for many charities.
Only Janine could spend her honeymoon climbing mountains in her wedding dress, such is her determination that her illness will not rob her of the the best years of her life/
|Janine on her wedding day, a few days later she was climbing mountains wearing the same dress!|
Tell me how life has given you lemons?
Life gave me lemons back in October 2015 I had been going back back and fore to the doctors for weeks with a painful ear infection that was not responding to treatment, it turned out to be a sympton of something far more sinister that had me fighting for my life. After 2 months and a raft of blood tests, scans, xrays and a lung biopsy I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegeners Vasculitis).
I went from a healthy 8st 6lbs to under 7st in a matter of weeks. I was dependent on a wheelchair just to get to hospital to have the IV chemo which the doctors hoped would help my symptoms. With each treatment I grew more determined to make lemonade with my lemons. This illness was not going to be how my story ended.
And so how have you made lemonade?
I made lemonade by turning my illness into a super power . I channelled all my strength to push my mind to places that it could grow stronger to support my body. I used my knowledge of fitness and nutrition to help rebuild my broken body. My consultant told me that the granulomas in my lungs were permanent and would always cause problems but I was determined to prove him wrong and my lungs are now granuloma free. My illness has opened my eyes to the world of chronic disease and disability and made me want to help others and raise awareness.
I now hold free PT sessions for people who have a long term health condition or are recovering from cancer. I also spend a lot of my spare time spreading awareness and raising money for Vasculitis UK, Ovarian Cancer Action, Cystic Fibrosis and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
I have learned so much about myself throughout this journey. I learned I was stronger than I thought, braver than I could ever be and I learned that love is really all you need when the chips are down.
I wouldn’t change a thing as I have grown so much and I no longer take my life for granted.
What would you consider to be your biggest strength(s)?
My biggest strengths are my husband, mother, father, family and friends - they helped glue me back together when I felt broken, they always remind me that I could and would become strong again.
I also draw so much strength from the knowledge I had gained in my life pre-vasculitis about health and nutrition, it has helped me get back on my feet again.
To be kind to yourself , the steroid train is the hardest ride you could ever go on (anyone who has ever had to have steroid treatment will know this all too well!).
How do you want to be remembered?
I would like to think that I would be remembered as a girl who cared and did her best to raise awareness for others less fortunate.
What advice would you give other people when life gives them lemons?
The best advice I can give to anyone is never give up there is light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dark it gets and to always, always surround yourself with people who love you and care for you. No matter what is going on in your life be kind to others but also be firm when you need answers.
And last thing is to get a fuck it bucket throw away all the small stuff life throws at you because life is way to short to waste your time on things that don’t matter.
Janine is running the London Marathon this year, she is raising money for Ovarian Cancer Research. Having worked in the NHS for many years alongside gynaecologists she saw the impact of this terrible disease and Janine, being Janine wants to raise funds and awareness even though she is still having active treatment for her vasculitis. You can sponsor her
Janine runs JinFit, women only fitness classes in South Wales https://www.jinfit.co.uk/