A little over a year has passed now since James’ untimely death. I still find it very hard to comprehend what happened and the narrative is still as baffling as it is upsetting. How could a seemingly fit, healthy and happy life come to such an abrupt and tragic end?
I have to be honest, that in the wake of what happened to James I was more than worried as well as upset – the circumstances terrified me and I was beginning to feel like I needed peace of mind. I guess it’s human nature to start building up emotions of worry while there’s grief and begin to put your own situation in the spotlight.
Was I scared that my heart was beating a bit quicker than normal? Did that beat just feel more like a palpitation? What does it all mean? If something so awful could happen to James, then why not me? I began to question everything.
I went to see my GP and explained how I felt and what had recently happened. One week later and I was hooked up with an ECG monitor. Thankfully, there were no known problems – but having access to that sort of thing is fantastic. It’s fundraising that pays for it and charities in our local area, as well as CRY, are able to fund and support heart screenings – this is why what we’re doing is so important.
Perhaps it shouldn’t take something so awful to happen for us to make conscious decision about our own health, but we do often take it for granted. I would encourage anyone with any doubts about their health and seeking peace of mind to do exactly what I and many others have done before me.
And this is where the challenge comes in.
For me, doing this challenge is as much about raising awareness of what happened to James and ensuring that sort of tragedy doesn’t get repeated as it is raising money. Of course, we all want try and raise as much as possible and it looks great seeing that fundraising figure going up day by day – but we can’t switch off after the big cheque is handed over, we’ve all shaken hands and given ourselves a pat on the back. No. What continues is the awareness beyond the challenge and encouraging each other to be vigilant about our health and our hearts. The fundraising is essentially there to be made use of. CRY are an excellent charity and since choosing them for this challenge I’ve learnt a lot more about what they do and perhaps what they can do for you too.
Here’s the quick facts that caught my eye:
- Each week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions
- In 80% of cases of young sudden cardiac death (YSCD) there are no prior symptoms of a heart defect
…and here’s what CRY do to identify and support young people at risk:
- Cardiac screening – a quick and painless non-invasive test called an ECG which records the electrical activity of the heart. Any person between the ages of 14 and 35 can book a place at a CRY screening event – visit testmyheart.org for more info.
- Research – furthering the understanding of young sudden death at a world leading centre and publishing papers, reports, abstracts and conference proceedings. Critical for sharing knowledge and understanding cardiac risks.
Of course, there’s far more that CRY offer and you can read more about how they can help you by downloading their introduction leaflet here (copies of these leaflets will also be available shortly on the NUFC notice board at the Grove).
The last thing I want to do is a load of scaremongering and for everyone under the age of 35 to rush into their local GP. But for me, the motives for this challenge are simple. We have well over 100 members under the age of 35 at NUFC – and there’s probably thousands and thousands in the local area who are active in organised sport, as well as the casual. Awareness of this issue is therefore key. My point here is to not take your health for granted and not be afraid to ask questions. Seek advice and support if you feel you need it because this is essentially why we fundraise, to fund those conversations, those screenings and those pieces of research. Because brilliant charities with the understanding and knowledgable, supportive people don’t exist without you.
Thank you so much as always for all your wonderful support so far in remembering James. We’re all looking forward to sharing more of our progress in the coming weeks.
Stu and the Colman 4 Mountain Team