I came across a story the other day about the Welsh professional golfer Ian Woosnam and his battle with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Woosnam hasn't played a European Tour event since July after being diagnosed with CFS, but plans to launch his senior golf career next March at the Barbados Open.
This story made me curious to find out about other celebrities who are suffering from chronic
fatigue syndrome. I'd also discovered a few months ago that Ricky Carmichael, the hugely successful American motorcross/supercross rider, also had recently been diagnosed. His condition has meant he's had to pull out of a recent major event in Las Vegas and another in November. It sounds very much like the seventeen-time champion rider will have his motorcyle racing career prematurely ended by his illness.
In a press release dated October 9th he said: "I've just felt like I've been running out of steam the past few months. Training has been difficult. I've struggled to maintain my normal pace on my road bike and though I've been extremely tired, I've had a difficult time sleeping and never really feel rested."
One of the most well known CFS sufferers is Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend, which also became a surprise hit movie. Seabiscuit tells the story of an ungainly racehorse that beat all the odds to become champion. The story has undeniable parallels with Laura's own struggles to become a best selling author despite being bed-ridden much of the time due to CFS.
A web search revealed that there are other well known CFS sufferers. An example is Amy Peterson a US speed skater who is nine-time US champion and has been to five winter olympics, collecting 3 medals along the way.
So it seems there are actually quite a number of well known individuals who are suffering the same as the rest of us. I'd like to think something good will come of their suffering and the publicity they generate will advance the cause of CFS sufferers everywhere. When people see that highly motivated and successful people at the peak of physical fitness can be struck down by CFS it may help them to realise that this is no 'yuppie-flu' or malingerers fantasy but a devasting illness that can wreck careers and lives.
I wish each of the individuals I've mentioned all the best in overcoming their health problems. In a perfect world nobody would have to deal with the consequences of CFS.
About: Matthew Hogg ("Maff")
Diagnosed with M.E./chronic fatigue syndrome aged only 11 years old and subsequently associated illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Despite his own struggles he has constantly sought to educate and support others suffering from such "invisible illnesses" through his website, The Environmental Illness Resource. He fully recovered from MCS using his own approach and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutritional Health.