Sonja’s mile a day for the MEA keeps her worry at bay

September 2, 2020

Tony Britton, Fundraising and PR Manager, ME Association.

Sonja Phillips

Sonja Phillips is walking a mile a day for the ME Association and, in the process, rediscovering scenes from one of Britain’s most famous landscapes that for years were just etched into her memory.

For too long a time, her M.E. combined with a high number of uncontrollable seizures kept her indoors at her south coast home in Seaford.

Now “currently in a good place with my health”, she’s walking down the road a bit and catching views of The Seven Sisters, the magnificent row of chalk cliffs that stretch out towards Eastbourne.

“If I can walk a mile a day, I will, but I’m taking things very easy. I hope I'm not pushing my luck but I'd like to finish by the end of September.”

Sonja Phillips

It’s a supreme achievement from someone who has suffered from M.E. for over 20 years since she had glandular fever as a teenager – blighted only by the knowledge that one of her two children, 11-year-old Bethany, has now also been diagnosed with M.E. by a paediatrician in Eastbourne.

“I’ve had a couple of weeks off due to a blip in my health, pesky seizures and migraines but I’m back out there each day walking and have increased my miles to make up for the missing time,” she wrote on her fundraising page recently.

“The devastating news that Bethany has also been diagnosed with M.E. has had a huge impact on us all and made me even more determined to raise awareness of this under-funded, misunderstood illness.”

The Seven Sisters Cliffs

For both her children – she also has a 13-year-old son, Joshua – Sonja is determined to try and stay as strong as The Seven Sisters, which have been immortalised by generations of English landscape painters and filmmakers.

“In the beginning , I was having over 20 seizures a day, caused by extreme fatigue and PTSD. Since 2015, I’ve relied upon the use of a wheelchair, walking stick, stairlift and other mobility aids to get around. 

“I was bedbound for over six months due to the severity of my M.E. and I consider myself very lucky compared to other sufferers who spend years in this state. My life has changed beyond recognition.”

She says Bethany and Joshua, who have both taken first aid courses and know what to do when mum has her fits, have been huge pillars of support. They’ve both won Young Carer of the Year awards.

Abby, the family cockapoo, waits for Sonja to catch up

“Of course I worry that in looking after me they have been missing part of their childhoods, but they never complain.”

It took until 2015 when she was very ill for Sonja to obtain her M.E. diagnosis. She’s thankful that Bethany has been diagnosed fairly quickly because they both now know what to do in order to keep her as well as possible.

“I try to walk a mile a day. There are some days that my legs and brain don’t quite connect. That’s when it becomes quite interesting!”

Huge thanks, Sonja, for supporting the ME Association and we look forward to the day when there should be effective treatments and maybe a cure for this horrid illness.

The ME Association

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