Inspiring fundraiser Dominic shares his arthritis journey ahead of half-marathon

Pictures of Dominic in his running vest and ready for Royal Parks run.

On Sunday 13 October, thousands of runners will embark on a scenic route through four of London’s world-famous parks, as part of the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

Among our team of 28 fundraisers will be 35-year-old Dominic, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 14 and initially had to rely on crutches to get around. We spoke to him about why he is proud to be donning the Versus Arthritis running vest this weekend.

“I started experiencing joint pain as a child, but it was often dismissed as growing pains.”

Dominic was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 14, following a visit to A&E. He says: “I started experiencing joint pain as a child, but it was often dismissed as growing pains.”

“Following my diagnosis, I would struggle to get out of bed and get dressed for school. I tried various treatments to manage the pain, but I still had to rely on crutches to get around.

“In my late teens, I couldn’t go to parties and I found it difficult explaining to my friends why I couldn’t go out and have fun. I decided that going out had be on my terms and sometimes I wouldn’t answer my phone, just to avoid having to say no.”

“I wasn’t managing my arthritis and I decided I needed to take control”

“Two years ago, I developed a viral infection which led to a bad flare-up and resulted in me being blue-lighted to hospital. The doctors discovered that I had inflammation in my lungs, which was related to my arthritis.

“I was advised to try the drug Humira, which I had been worried about using due to the known side effects. The doctors were concerned that I wasn’t managing my arthritis very well and convinced me that it was in my best interest to try it.

“The drug certainly helped to manage the pain but when I left hospital, I decided that I needed to take control of my condition.”

“Committing to exercise and addressing my diet was the best decision I made”

“I joined a functional fitness gym and they put me in touch with a nutritionist who helped me to carry out a massive overhaul of my diet. I provided details about my condition and they asked me to cut out processed foods and foods known to cause inflammation and commit to a joint strengthening exercise programme.

“Since joining the gym and committing to this diet, I’ve lost 35kg in weight. I still experience pain, but I can manage it a lot better.

“Personally, I found that eliminating gluten and processed foods helped to ease the joint pain. My diet mainly consists of lean protein and vegetables. I also take turmeric and apple cider vinegar each day. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but I’ve certainly noticed an improvement in joint pain since addressing my diet.”

Setting myself a challenge

“At the start of this year, I decided to set myself a challenge by registering for the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

“I want people to know that although arthritis is part of you and will always be there, it doesn’t define you. And that it is possible to do things that you once thought weren’t possible.

“I won’t beat myself up if I need to walk and run. The fact that I am able to take part in this event a year after being hospitalised due to my arthritis is a massive achievement for me.”

If you’ve been inspired by Dominic’s story and would like to get involved in one of our challenge events, visit our events page.