I'm Ronan, and I'm living with Psoriatic Arthritis. This June, along with Aonghus, Alan, Brian, Darragh, and James (a team of 6 intrepid explorers), I'll be travelling the length of the Shannon - from Dowra in Cavan to Limerick by Kayak canoe. Thats 280 Kms down Ireland's biggest waterway, across Loughs, past weirs and through gates. We will be crossing all 4 Provinces and 10 Counties.
Why? I want to raise awareness about arthritis, about the challenges facing the 1 in 5 Irish people who will encounter arthritis.
And I want to show what’s possible!
I was 29 when I started to face the reality that something was wrong ... that my body was conspiring against me. That it wouldn't work the way it should, that I couldn't do the things I used to do. Like hurling and golf. Even walking the dogs. I tried to hide it, thinking it was just a phase, that it would pass.
I didn't want to confront it, to share it. But my family knew something was up.
I used to escape into the cool waters of the lake at Loughrea for a swim. The water took the weight of my body, and gave temporary relief. But each time I had to haul myself back up out of the lake. The pain bit back hard every time.
Eventually I had to do something, and my GP sent me to a specialist. And a diagnosis. Psoriatic arthritis.
I'd never heard of it. I thought arthritis was something for old people! But now I know that it can affect anyone. It doesn't discriminate, between young or old, male or female. With my diagnosis - and the realisation that I had it in my spine, feet, hips, ribs and shoulders - I started to receive treatment and medication. Forth-nightly injections, and I started to notice an improvement very quickly.
Two years on I am in a much better place. Flare-ups happen, and there are bad days as well as good days. But I've been much worse, and I know that there are others worse off than me.Now I want to share my story, and do something that will help raise awareness of this sometimes invisible condition.
And I want to show what's possible, when we stand up to arthritis!
To support Ronan and his team, and to stand up to arthritis, please click here to visit his fundraising page.
The funds generated by this challenge will go to help Arthritis Ireland build a better world for people living with arthritis today. And a world without arthritis tomorrow.