East Putney Woman Plans Half Marathon

Raising over £1500 for the MS Society in mum's memory

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A 28-year-old from East Putney has so far raised more than £1,500 for the MS Society, ahead of doing the Royal Parks half marathon in October. Bella Heesom is taking on the run in memory of her mum, who lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 24 years. Yasmin Heesom was only 51 when she died in December 2012.

Bella, who’s an actor, is doing the Royal Parks in London on Sunday 6 October. She says she partly wanted to do it to keep fit but it’s mainly about her mum and fundraising:
“The association with my mum and because I’m doing it to raise money has made me feel much more motivated. It’s made me go out and train and work much harder. My mum was an athlete when she was younger so it felt like an appropriate thing to do; the sort of thing she would have liked. Running can also be meditative, in the months after she died I was struggling and I found running therapeutic.”

Bella initially set herself a target of raising £500 but upped it to £1,000 when she quickly reached that total. She’s just increased it again to £2,000.

The 28-year-old says her mum was an inspiration:
“When she was diagnosed, I was only little and she was terrified that the disease would stop her being the brilliant mum she wanted to be. Of course she didn't let that happen; she gave me unconditional love and huge inspiration, and I will always be grateful to her for those priceless gifts. But it was not easy for her. She protected me as much as she could, hiding her suffering as far as possible, to allow me to enjoy my childhood. But she did suffer.”

Bella says her mum initially had to rely on a walking stick when her muscles stiffened. She then had to use a wheelchair for long distances when walking became too tiring. Eventually, she was unable to stand up at all and when her arms seized up she couldn't wash or feed herself. But Bella says she didn’t let her MS get on top of her:
“I still find it astonishing to reflect on how positive my mum remained throughout all of this. She never lost her sense of humour, and she would say 'Thank you' to her (wonderful) carers right up until the end, never becoming bitter or resentful. I stayed with her in hospital in her final weeks, when she had pneumonia, a collapsed lung, and huge air pockets in her bowel which could rupture at any moment, and every time I asked her for a smile, she gave me the warmest smile I have ever seen.”

The MS Society is the leading UK charity for the 100,000 people living with multiple sclerosis. Most people are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s. They’re fighting to improve treatment and care to help people with MS take control of their lives. And with generous support from their donors and fundraisers, they ’re funding research to help beat MS for good.

October 2, 2013