A poignant family connection is inspiring Francesca Eyre to undertake a dramatic Nepalese challenge. The 43-year-old, now based with her family in France, has lost a brother and sister to cystic fibrosis and is herself a carrier of the faulty gene. Carrying on a family tradition of fund raising Francesca will take part in the Manaslu Trail Race in November - running 220km, racing up to 5400m and climbing a further 15000m in a seven day period for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Francesca explains: “In the 1970s cystic fibrosis was a very rare illness and sufferers didn’t live until adulthood. It’s a life-shortening genetic condition that slowly destroys the lungs and digestive system. Mucus builds up on your lungs and because you are not getting enough oxygen around your body, your main organs begin to suffer.”
“Growing up I was very aware of it. Mum spent a lot of time away in hospital with my brother Nick or sister Jo so I started cooking quite young and became a second mum for my brothers and sister. I would also give Jo and Nick their chest physiotherapy during lunchtimes at school. This helped to clear their airways of mucus and they needed it three times a day.
"Despite barely being able to breathe, when Jo was 11 she road 25 miles to raise money for cystic fibrosis. I remember Jo being very poorly and everybody saying it will be too difficult for her. But she did it and raised over £100 which was a lot of money back then. This is why I do so much sport because my brother and sister never could. I’m breathing for them.”
Jo died when she was 15 and Francesca moved to Ireland, to train as a chef, but returned to England when her mum was diagnosed with cancer. She says: “Mum died when I was 21 which left me to look after Nick, now nearly an adult and coping with a condition he was very aware of."
Later Francesca moved to France, married Paul and had to face the decision to have children. Thankfully the couple now have three healthy children (see picture). However she is aware three babies are born each week in the UK with the cystic fibrosis.
She says: "it is for these people that I’m raising money with the 220km race in Nepal. To make a daily difference to the lives of those with cystic fibrosis and the people who care for them. For me I live my life to the absolute full, on behalf of my mother, my brother and my sister, who have not being able to. This race is in memory of my amazing mother - I still miss and think about her every single day - Mum you raised so much money for cystic fibrosis, you fought so hard for Jo and Nick - It's my turn in November.”
For more details on Francesca’s challenge visit her Just Giving page.