First up I had better introduce myself, I’m Dave (Mawer) and I’m writing this blog today because Let’s Do It For ME have kindly asked me if I would share with you my story.
So why do I support the group of fundraisers that make up Let’s do it for ME raising money for the charity Invest in ME? Until 2010 I was blissfully unaware of the illness ME, no one I knew had it and as far as I was concerned it was some trifling so called illness of lazy folk, people who didn’t want to go to work and so were signed of as having “Yuppie Flu”. TV sitcoms were the only reference I had to it and it was a source amusement and jokes and seemed to not be anything of concern. Back then I had no idea how wrong I was!
So, what changed my mind? My wife and two of my three daughters now suffer from ME or if I am to give it it’s full name – Myalgic Encephomyelitis. If like me, you think this is nothing much to be concerned about then you are wrong – it is a very real, serious, debilitating, life changing illness that evolves, the symptoms change from day to day, person to person. Some are only affected mildly and others very severely. For us it has altered our complete way of life, we have had to adapt, learn, read and research the illness in order to fight prejudice and ignorance and try and raise awareness and educate. My wife, Tanya, has only recently been diagnosed and as chief carer to our daughters has been floored by this. She struggles to clean the house and so our eldest daughter Keisha comes weekly to do it for her. She manages to care for the girls but it’s a struggle. Her favourite pass time of taking our dogs for a walk now is impossible, something she misses terribly – but the dogs are okay, don’t worry, I have built a fence around our garden so they have a large play area to safely charge about in together. We have little social life and any social engagements come with planning so that she can leave early when it becomes too much. Tasha and Tara both have been out of mainstream education, in and out of hospital, suffered terrible pain, mobility limitations and had to forgo social milestones such as proms, leavers day, parties and things that normal teenagers enjoy. However – as a family this illness has somehow brought us together, forged a much stronger binding bond that is held together with humour, laughter and a determination to change how this illness is perceived.
Every year we participate in the Walk for ME during the May ME Awareness week, we love doing this but now it’s harder with 3 of the 5 of us suffering, so next year will be a much shorter, gentler affair as usually myself and Tanya push the girls in wheelchairs so now that will have to change.
Mostly we fund-raise as a family or Tanya does something like give up alcohol, chocolate and just recently meat for a month for sponsorship. I always wanted to do my bit and so found I could do something that Tanya couldn’t do (or at least I hope not!) and that’s grow facial hair! So I decided every November that I would participate in the Movember for ME fundraiser, which has seen me have a few different looks, as you can see…
As well as setting up a justgiving fundraising page I had cards printed up which I handed out to people with links to how they could donate and a sweatshirt printed with the link to donate and what I was doing so when I was walking out and about people would see and stop me to ask me about it.
For 2014 Movember we added that I would shave my hair into a Mohawk if further donations were given, they duly were and so we videoed Tasha shaving off my hair! You can see the video here on Tanya’s youtube account along with other fundraising videos such as Keisha cutting off her dreadlocks, Tanya, Keisha and friends taking the ME Chilli challenge and two ME Awareness videos made by the girls.
This year I can’t partake in the Movember for ME challenge because after last year I decided to keep my beard and am now going to just let it grow and see how long I can get it!
So, I call out to all you grandfathers, fathers, brothers, boyfriends and male friends of sufferers of ME OR perhaps you may suffer with ME yourself. Why not give it a go this November and allow your facial furniture to evolve and grow in order to do something special for the ME community by raising money to go towards vital research into this illness. This will give hope to all sufferers and potentially be the start of effective treatments and ways to help our loved ones get better and regain control of their lives.
The gauntlet has been laid down – will you take up the Movember for ME challenge?
Here’s the Let’s Do It for ME Movember JustGiving page you can use with the JusTextGiving code – MFME77 (£1-£5 or £10) to 70070 – justgiving.com/movember4me