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Raising awareness of debilitating disease

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May 17, 2018

Fibromyalgia sufferers and Parkrunners Mary Kingham-Bradley, Charlotte Ryan (2), Mathieu Ryan, Erica Kingham-Bradley, Bradley Champion (2), Jason Hunter, and Sharleen Bachelor with Carina.

Runners took to the paths around Shepparton’s Victoria Park last weekend to commemorate World Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

The devastating illness affects a person’s nervous system resulting in constant pain.

Sufferer Sharleen Bachelor joined with runners from Shepparton Parkrun, pushing herself to tackle a 5km run.

‘‘It was my first run because I have been unwell. It was a hard one,’’ Ms Bachelor said.

‘‘I started out using Nordic walking poles. My brother gave them to me as a tool to get me back into learning how to exercise again.’’

Despite suffering from both chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, Ms Bachelor rejects living a life based on painkillers and has instead opted for a different way of managing her conditions.

‘‘Graded exercise and whole foods — the holistic method is working out for me so much better,’’ she said.

Joining Ms Bachelor on Saturday’s run was her dog Carina, a companion animal that helps Ms Bachelor manage daily life.

Carina is as important to Ms Bachelor as a guide dog to their handler, and is governed by the same rules that allow Carina to travel anywhere Ms Bachelor does.

Sometimes this leads to misunderstandings, with a taxi driver recently refusing her a lift due to a fear of dogs.

But Ms Bachelor does not let such events get her down or dampen her enthusiastic attitude.

‘‘On the whole the taxis are amazing,’’ she said.

Ms Bachelor said she encouraged anyone suffering from similar conditions to get in touch with the Shepparton Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia support group.

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