Friday 30 March 2012

Pain is temporary... quitting is forever: Tanya's Story

Quitting is indeed forever, but Tanya's Boyce is the antithesis of someone who would consider quitting.

What she is instead, is the exemplification of bravery.

Bravery comes in many forms, physical, emotional, in the form of having to change your course in life, to have faith that things will work out and to have faith that things will get better. When you're in a place you don't want to be, bravery comes in the form of strength. The mental strength of determination and even the physical strength of resilience.

Sometimes to make things better it takes inspiration. But the strongest kind of inspiration and the most difficult to acquire, is the inspiration from within yourself. For someone who is in pain, in a dark place, you have to be able to inspire yourself to imagine what could be ahead of you, even when you are overcome by an all encompassing feeling of helplessness.

But what make's Tanya so astonishing, is the incredible bravery, inspiration and physical resilience she produced to overcome an obstacle that would make most ordinary individuals fall to bits.

But Tanya, has the mentality of an Olympic standard Pentathlete - determination, inspiration, adaptability and strength to deal with pain and put it somewhere else in your head in order to focus on achieving a goal.

While at university, Tanya was on a training programme as a Pentathlete, at one of the UK's premier sporting universities, Bath. She was heading on a road for a spot on the British team for the Olympics. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Pentathlon, in includes 5 events; Shooting, Swimming, Fencing, Equestrian and Cross Country Running. You need to be a naturally talented all round athlete to even think about becoming successful in the sport.

So when Tanya started to experience difficulty in even just getting up, never mind training, out of the blue, she knew something was wrong.

- She had developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Sometimes you just get lucky with a GP or Consultant, they're not all the same standard. Thankfully for Tanya, she did get lucky and her amazing GP referred her to brilliant Sports Medicine Specialist, who rather than just writing a report on her, saw her every week for 6 months.
But what she was told, took outstanding bravery to commit to. She was told: "This might not work, it's going to be painful, but it's your only chance. What do you want to do?"

What she did, was grab it with both hands, overcome, enormous physical pain and depression and it did work. She seems to have approached her treatment like a gold medal winning Olympic Athlete. She is disciplined, works hard on her work / life balance, eats the right things and exercises regularly.
Next time you go out on your morning run or cycle or play sport and start to feel the lactic acid kick in, spare a thought for what this incredible woman goes through.

When I met Tanya, while training for my Sports Therapy qualification, she seemed the kind of person who embraces life, she was friendly, didn't judge and was just inspiring.
When I go through the routine of carrying my Hockey Goalkeeper bag the long walk to training, I don't just think of people with far worse Epilepsy, I think of Tanya and what she went through. It makes me think to myself "Get a grip Katie". There are some people who make you feel humble to be in their presence and she is one of the few people I've met that has made me feel that way.
- It was a privilege by the way Tanya.

Tanya told me she was asked something once - "Did she regret anything that happened or feel bitter about it?"

This was her response: 
"In a word – no.  Whilst it would be wonderful to be fighting for a 2012 place I wouldn’t have met my finace, be doing the youth work I now love or have met some of the amazing people that have helped and supported me along the way. Some of my closest and most important friendships have come out of the hardest of my times.
I’ve learnt so much about myself in the journey and want to carry on learning."

It's true, as the quote goes, "the most important relationship is you have is the one with yourself". If you learn about yourself, you learn how you can be at your best and you can learn how to improve when you're not.

Tanya is far to intelligent for me to argue with, so I'm going to take her advice and keep on learning. 
That amazing insight will I know help me and I'm sure it will help anyone like us, who has a hidden disability like Epilepsy or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

As for the lady herself, well in the rather famous words of a beer ad:
"If Carlsberg made role models, they'd probably be Tanya Boyce."

I think it's a travesty that Tanya isn't carrying the Olympic flame, so along with the people who inspired me with Epilepsy, I say to her: "This one's for you hun". x

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