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Cycling helps battle with gut condition

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A hospital nurse has told how cycling has helped him cope with the physical and mental effects of a chronic digestive condition.

Ian Marshall, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease four years ago, is set to cycle the length of the UK - from Land’s End to John O’Groats - after finding the health benefits of a ride on his bike.

The bowel condition, which causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue and weight loss, affects more 100,000 people in the UK and millions more worldwide.

Mr Marshall, a nurse at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, described the anguish of falling ill before struggling to find the right treatment after first experiencing symptoms at the end of 2013.

He said: “Christmas was pretty rubbish that year. Things were not great.”

After an initial course of treatment was not successful, Mr Marshall, 52, of Richmond Hill, began having drugs administered via an infusion at Chapel Allerton Hospital.

He said: “The main time it affected me was in the last six months of last year. The treatment I was on wasn’t working any longer.

“Then they put me on some infusions via a drip. Initially that didn’t work and that was the time I got pretty depressed and down.

“I started to wonder if I’d ever feel reasonably OK again.

“You can’t physically do anything. It affects a lot of things. It tires you out. You don’t know when you’re next going to desperately need to go to the toilet.”

After Mr Marshall’s symptom’s eventually settled down he went on to continue the treatment every six weeks at Chapel Allerton.

Now Mr Marshall, who works in radiotherapy at the Bexley Wing at St James’s, is preparing to cycle the 874 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s in aid of Cancer Research UK.

It follows a previous charity walk up Mount Kilimanjaro which Mr Marshall completed in 2015. Mr Marshall said he first had to pull out of the cycle ride, but will now complete the challenge this September.

He said: “I had wanted to do Kilimanjaro for a while. I was really glad I did it. This was a chance for me to challenge myself again.”

Mr Marshall described how riding his bike had helped him manage his condition.

He said: “I hadn’t cycled since I was a young kid. I bought a bike about 18 months ago and started training.

“It’s just being in the outdoors and enjoying the scenery. You can forget your worries and be in the fresh air. It has helped me a hell of a lot.

“I cycle every day after work and for longer distances at weekends.

“I feel a lot more positive. My physical and mental health is a lot better than it was this time last year.”