Dancer set to run Edinburgh Marathon for coeliac charity that changed her life

Katieanne Duncan-Bruce's career suffered due to her undiagnosed condition. Picture: Contributed
Katieanne Duncan-Bruce's career suffered due to her undiagnosed condition. Picture: Contributed
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A DANCER whose sequin-studded career has seen her perform around the world is kicking off her high heels and lacing up her trainers to run the Edinburgh Marathon for the charity which has changed her life.

Katieanne Duncan-Bruce will compete this weekend to raise £1500 for Coeliac UK after years of suffering from the debilitating condition.

No doctor had ever been able to identify the illness which saw her endure stabbing stomach pains, bloating and skin rashes.

It was only when she came back to Edinburgh last year that she heard the charity’s campaign adverts and got herself tested. The positive result brought an end to decades of pain and discomfort for the 29-year-old.

“I suffered with insomnia, burning rashes and agonising swellings over my body as a child,” she said. “There were growth problems, trouble concentrating when I was a teenager and that developed into crippling stomach problems and at times I would collapse.

“Although I always ate healthily and exercised, my weight would fluctuate for no reason and there were times I couldn’t leave the house for days because I needed the toilet so often. It was horrendous.”

When she was 15 she was prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug which provoked an anaphylactic reaction, so she steered clear of medication. “GPs would say try using different washing powder or keep a food diary – none of it worked. When I went to study dance at Edinburgh’s Telford 
College I was exhausted – far more than others. It was incredibly frustrating because no matter what I did the symptoms always came back.”

Despite her problems Katieanne went on to have a successful career as a show dancer working on cruise ships.

“But it became harder to deal with everything, to hide what was happening to me. When I was bloated – at times it looked like I was pregnant – I’d be told off because obviously it didn’t look good, and I was told my wages would be docked.”

She worked in Singapore for two years as a choreographer and entertainment manager, but she added: “I ended up in hospital quite a few times as the pains were so bad – they thought I had appendicitis.

“They did so many tests, it was very alarming because you end up thinking the worst. One scan showed my intestines were so swollen it was impossible to see my womb and my lymph nodes were extremely swollen. I was constantly ill, picking up viruses and infections every few weeks.”

She came home last year for her sister’s wedding, but shopping for a bridesmaid dress proved a problem. “When we were driving to go and try on dresses I had such agonising pains it was like I was being stabbed repeatedly in the stomach. I was sobbing.”

It was then that Katieanne heard the campaign adverts run by Coeliac UK, which aimed to get more people tested for the auto-immune disease which is triggered by eating gluten. The charity believes that in Scotland there are around 52,000 coeliacs – but 40,000 are undiagnosed.

Myles Fitt, Scotland lead at Coeliac UK, said: “We are campaigning to raise awareness of the condition among the public. Our campaign seeks to reduce the average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis currently an appalling 13 years.”

Katieanne added: “I was 28 and had never heard of coeliac disease. My GP referred me for tests. Getting the proper diagnosis last May was life-changing and it turns out I’m a chronic coeliac.

“The change in my health has been like night and day. All the symptoms have gone. I’m glad I can say to people who didn’t believe anything was wrong, there was a problem.”

Now an assistant manager at the MGA Performing Arts Academy in Edinburgh, Katieanne said: “I owe my new found health to this charity and I am willing to do as much as I can to raise money for them. I used to be so embarrassed about my past symptoms, but now I don’t mind sharing my story if it means there is a chance of helping someone else. I don’t want others to go through what I did.”

www.coeliac.org.uk

Cancer fears won’t halt us

GOSIA Wardrop will be among the runners taking to Edinburgh’s streets for the marathon.

The 39-year-old trainee GP from Dalkeith – who is based at Sighthill Green Medical Practice – is the fourth gene-ration in her family to have breast cancer.

With a young family, she has chosen to run to show her children that their “mummy is back” having had a mastectomy last year.

“My mum, her aunt and my great-grandmother all had breast cancer,” Gosia, above, said. “Both my great-grandmother and my mum’s aunt sadly did not survive. My mum is still alive, thanks to improvements in breast cancer treatment.”

Gosia is raising money for Breast Cancer Now – the largest breast cancer charity working in Scotland. She said: “Thankfully, I caught the cancer early and have been given the all-clear. As well as supporting breast cancer research, I want to prove to my children that their old mummy is back and is stronger, fitter and healthier than ever.”

Running the half-marathon is 31-year-old Sharon Duffy, from the city centre, who is also raising money for Breast Cancer Now.

She comes from a BRCA1 family. BRCA1 is a gene carried by everyone, but people who have a fault in this gene have a higher risk of developing cancer.

“People who know me know how out of character any kind of exercise is, especially running,” said Sharon, below. “However, this all changed when I discovered I was carrying the faulty BRCA1 gene.

“I have a history of cancer in my family and this exper-ience, along with the discovery that I have a faulty copy of the BRCA1 gene, gave me the motivation to do something that may change the lives of women with cancer in the future.”

Racing pat the £30m mark for good causes

Edinburgh Marathon Festival takes place today and tomorrow across the city, with six events available to runners.

They include the full marathon tomorrow, from 9.50am, which will see thousands of people compete through Holyrood Park from London Road and on to East Lothian. Other events include a half-marathon tomorrow, from 8am, and a marathon relay race split into four sections, also tomorrow from 10am.

Today’s races are the 10k at 9am, the 5k at 11am, and two shorter 2k and 1.5k runs for juniors from 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

Since 2003, Edinburgh Marathon Festival runners have raised more than £30 million for hundreds of charities.

For more details of this weekend’s events, and how to sign up for 2017, visit www.edinburghmarathon.com