Vice-president of the European Parliament to run London Marathon for endometriosis research

5 February 2009

Diana Wallis MEP will be running the London Marathon on 26 April 2009 to raise funds for the World Endometriosis Research Foundation (WERF). An endometriosis-sufferer herself, Diana wants to raise awareness of the impact of endometriosis so that the disease can become a research priority in women’s health.

Picture of Diana Wallis
Diana Wallis MEP, Vice-president of the European Parliament

Diana Wallis has run the London Marathon once before in 2006 – it was meant as a big thing to celebrate her 50th, but turned out to be two years late….

Back then she got a formal charity place to run for Amnesty International because she couldn’t get a place earlier for what she really and truely wanted to do: to run for a charity connected to a very female disease, endometriosis. The charities concerned were too small to have secured places in the Marathon, which just about says it all about endometriosis, doesn’t it?

However several years on of saving up refusals Diana now has a place in the 2009 Marathon and has chosen to run for WERF – the World Endometriosis Research Foundation!

When asked about why endometriosis – and why WERF, Diana’s answer is very simple:

l was an endometriosis sufferer myself. Increasingly severe period pain and then mid cycle pain, and finally continuous discomfort and pain bedevilled most of my 30s. No-one diagnosed what was wrong with me in over six years of attempts. I was variously told I had PID, egg cysts, blocked fallopian tubes and even, by one consultant, that I was pregnant (when I knew that was the last thing I could be). It was finally an article in Cosmopolitan combined with a more sympathetic female GP that put me on the right track so that, in my late 30s just less than 9 months married, I ended up having what was euphomistically termed ‘a total abdominal clearance’ ie. a full hysterectomy.

Since then Diana feels she has been lucky. She has enjoyed good health and had a rewarding and absorbing career, not to mention an incredibly supportive husband. Not long after her operation she started running, and this has become slightly more serious in recent years, with her entering her first 10K race in 2003.

Diana Wallis marathon
Diana running for endometriosis research

Running has helped me both physically and mentally.

I sometimes think if I had started earlier it might have helped my battle with endometriosis; but I also know that exercise was the last thing I felt like in those days.

I have subsequently tried in my role as a member of the European Parliament to raise awareness of the desease Europe-wide, and a few years back we had a big campaign around a written declaration to get MEPs to sign; we achieved the largest number of signatures ever, at that time on a single women’s health issue. It certainly helped in trying to get more attention focused on the desease which affects so many millions of women, not just in Europe but worldwide.

Last autumn I knew that I should get a guaranteed place in the London Marathon 2009 and so at last, now aged 54, I shall have the chance to raise funds for a cause that means so much to so very many women and their families. We have to find lasting treatment and a proper cure for this disease.

Diana feels strongly about our cause:

We can only make progress by the serious co-ordination of international research! The situation today is much better than the time when I was finally diagnosed in 1990 but it is still unacceptable that so many women’s lives should be blighted and their fertility impaired by a complaint we surely could deal with if the will and the funds were there!

This is why I believe that the contribution that WERF can make is so essential.

Many national organisations do a tremendous job advising victims and raising awareness but we must indentify cures (and also the cause) – this is where WERF plays a vital role!.

 

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