It is said that life begins at 40 but for one Little Bourton man that milestone marked the beginning of his life living with an incurable disease.
Six years ago Lee Atherton was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory condition of the intestine of varying degrees of severity that has no known cause or cure.
Lee had not long celebrated his 40th birthday when he began to present symptoms of the condition. Initially he put them down to a stomach bug or eating the wrong food until one of the symptoms became too problematic to ignore.
Lee said: “I started to get really tired, the fatigue is just bone crunching.
“You have a ten-hour sleep and you wake up the next day and you feel like you’ve laid a patio. It’s that bad.”
After a barrage of tests the Crohn’s Disease diagnosis was confirmed thus beginning a lifetime of medication and the constant background noise that an ever present medical condition creates.
Lee was put on a regiment of steroids which seemed to keep the disease at bay for the next 12 months until, out of the blue, the disease once again reared its ugly head.
Lee said: “I had got back to playing tennis and was feeling okay. I was playing tennis and it was really weird, I don’t know if it was my body preparing to break down, but I felt really strong, really fast.
“I got up the following day and felt a bit funny and I did go to the doctors’ and I had ruptured internally. Crohn’s had done its work.”
After surgery and more trial and error drug treatments Lee has got on top of the disease so much so that he will now attempt a 12-hour tennis match to raise awareness and funds for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
Lee said: “Sport Relief came on the radio earlier this year and I thought there must be something I can do. What’s the longest tennis match?”
The answer is 11 hours and six minutes between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010.
He said: “I will be ruined, I know I will but I’ve got to do it.”
To sponsor Lee visit his JustGiving Page.