As a testament to good medical care and the right medication, Wendy embarked on the Cape Epic, a mountain bike stage race held in Western Cape, South Africa.
Potgieter cycled a grueling 430 miles over eight challenging days, and competed among the fittest of able-bodied athletes. Ultimately she climbed close to 50,000 feet, which is almost the equivalent of summiting Everest twice.
Auto-immune diseases (AIs) such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) develop when the body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells for harmful foreign ones and attacks them.
Medical science doesn’t know conclusively what causes the immune system to mistakenly attack its own tissues and cells. Whatever the cause, the effects can be devastating.
“I was eventually boarded and couldn’t work as the pain was so all-encompassing,” Wendy attests.
The condition she suffers from, rheumatoid arthritis, affects the lining of the joints, causing them to swell painfully.
It’s not that suffering from RA prevents an individual from attempting a big physical challenge like the Cape Epic race, but the condition makes it that much harder.
“Provided the patient is responding well to treatment and the RA is under control, challenges like this can be considered,” says Wendy’s physician, Dr Spargo, “but patients lose a lot of muscle strength as a result of the inflammation, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort and training to get those muscles back.”
In Wendy’s case, she had to prepare and train extra hard because of the deformity present in her joints, and lack of mobility.
Wendy cycled the Cape Epic on behalf of the AbbVie Join the Fight against Auto-immune Diseases campaign – a global initiative by Abbott Laboratories that seeks to help raise awareness of auto-immune diseases and to unite and support sufferers.
RA also cripples the hand and finger joints, making the simple task of grasping a writing pen very difficult. Using an ergonomic pen can be a big aide.
The UGLee Pen has been designed in such a way that the pen actually grasps you, thus allowing RA sufferers an easier, and much more comfortable, writing experience.