From The Argus, Brighton, 8 May 2008
A woman who suffered chronic fatigue syndrome was sacked from her job – but went on to win £150,000 on TV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
Marie Chesterfield, 33, of Hassocks, was watched by millions of viewers on Tuesday as she scooped the prize.
For the former carer and husband Michael it was the first half of a double dose of great fortune.
Soon after the filming last November, the couple discovered they were expecting their first child. The baby is due in August.
This week, taking stock of how much life has changed, Marie spoke of her three-year battle with the debilitating illness ME, her recovery from it and acknowledged "she was one of the lucky ones."
Marie was diagnosed with ME in 2005 after a cold led to a chest infection which then worsened, turning into pleurisy.
She went from being fit and involved in activities including a flying club at Shoreham airport, to falling seriously ill, being unable to work and eventually being bedridden. Marie said: "I was getting worse with my breathing and couldn’t walk up and down stairs.
"My doctor made the connection between my exhaustion and the fact I was completely bedridden.
She realised the pleurisy wasn’t the only problem.
"I was losing the ability to concentrate on anything and was sensitive to light and noise."
She was also in a lot of pain with fibromyalgia, a symptom of ME, which Marie described as "like having the flu but a lot worse".
Her doctor diagnosed her with CFS – a critical moment according to Marie, because she said complete rest was key to recovery and trying to carry on as normal, without knowing what was wrong with you and without a proper diagnosis, was the worst thing for a sufferer.
Marie was bedridden for six months but said she was helped greatly by the prescription of amitryptiline as medication for the pain and to ease her sleeping.
She said: "My recovery was down to prompt diagnosis and the fact that I had no choice but to obey the doctor’s advice and did nothing but rest.
"Some people aren’t diagnosed for years. The worst thing you can do is try to carry on and lead a normal life."
Gradually Marie’s condition improved and going on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? – something she could not possibly have done while ill with ME – was testament to her recovery.
Her success on the show, she said, has also been a great boost.
"The amount of stress and financial worry we had before has completely gone," she said.
"Not worrying about money means I can sleep better."
One of the things she enjoyed a lot in the past was being part of a pub quiz team, but she added: "We only had a couple of wins."