On Thursday 9th of January, I sat down for the big chop.
After 5 weeks of purely online fundraising, across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, I had raised £550 for ME Action UK. Strangers and old friend alike donated, and learnt a little more about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).
I had set the following milestones for the fundraiser:
If we raise less than £100, I'll barely get a trim of my 22 inch long hair. At £250, I'll go to shoulder length. But once we reach £500, I'll be leaving the salon with a pixie cut.
At £1000, I was willing to go bald.
The highest donor chose whether I would get a #FringeorNo.
Why ME Action?
25% of ME sufferers are bedbound.
Not long ago, that was me.
I was formally diagnosed at 13 years old, having been ill for at least 5 years. My mysterious illness had kept me from school, friends, and important days out and it had a massive list of symptoms. This made it all the harder to diagnose.
At Great Ormand's Street Hospital for children, I finally found out what the doctors had settled on: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). This is a condition without a cure, and the current treatments have been proven to cause more harm then they help.
Therefore, I fund-raised for the UK arm of #MEAction - a global grassroots network of people with ME and allies fighting for ME health equality. Their volunteers and staff work throughout the year campaigning for biomedical research funding and an end to harmful treatments. Each year #MEAction coordinates the #MillionsMissing campaign, with cities across the UK and globe shouting out and demanding research, treatment and equality for people with ME.
At 23, after officially ten years of illness, I've learnt how to cope with the symptoms and can hold down a job despite my disability. But I'm in a tiny minority of ME sufferers, and there's no logic to why I'm coping now when I didn't for so many years.
I spent most of my teen years in bed, unable to go outside or cope with light or noises. With full-body pain and a tearfully painful, unending fatigue, I wanted hope that this illness would one day be cured or at least treated.
With donations to ME Action, we can give other sufferers hope.
I'm so proud and stunned to have raised such an incredible figure for charity, and I'm super pleased with the resulting look: