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London Marathon 2019: Heather Gil- Abillera

18th March 2019

‘I lost the use of my left leg and was rushed to St George's Hospital. The next day I had spinal surgery to prevent my condition from worsening. There was no guarantee I'd regain the feeling in my leg, I was 21 years old not knowing what would happen.’

In 2011 Heather Gil Abillera’s life changed forever. An active young woman, Heather has always been incredibly adventurous, trying her hand at anything from climbing to obstacle courses, and never saying no to a challenge. A real adventurer.

Heather’s world was changed when she started experiencing intense pain in her left leg. Thinking of herself as a typically invincible twenty year old, she didn’t anticipate the pain continuing on, and assumed it would just go away. Her condition deteriorated quickly over the next few weeks, and before she knew it she had lost all of the feeling in her left leg. Heather was taken straight to A&E at St George’s Hospital where she was forced to confront the concept of a life without the use of her leg, and what this meant for her. This was one of the scariest moments of her life, with the frustration and fear multiplying along with the pain and confusion.  Heather was told she would be having serious spinal surgery the next day. There, it was found that her L5/S1 disc was putting extreme pressure on her sciatic nerve, and on the 15 September she had a discectomy.
As a result of this treatment she regained the feeling and movement in her leg.

Fast forward eight years and Heather is experiencing her life to the full! She has lived in Australia and Canada, she’s hiked mountains, learnt to climb even further, jumped out of a plane, re-trained as a personal trainer and can deadlift extreme weights- though we won’t tell her doctors that part! It is safe to say that the care she received at St George’s Hospital, and the shock of possibly losing something which she had never thought to lose, catapulted Heather into her positive, life affirming attitude. The support she received made her more determined than ever- following her recovery, someone laughed at her when she said she wanted to do eight Tough Mudder’s in five months; she completed nine.
She has since made that into 12.

Now, Heather is taking on a new challenge; to run the London Marathon 2019. Even though she clearly is the female Bear Grylls, running is a new challenge to her and one she has is not taking lightly. In 2018 she had take a break from running and training as the disc in her back threatened to cause her severe injury again, but with rest, hard work and determination she is back pounding the pavements with the positive attitude she subscribes to. Even her gorgeous dog has had some training too!

Heather will be running to raise money for the Neurosurgical unit at St George’s Hospital in order to provide better equipment and improved facilities for other patients, so they too can walk out of the hospital and later run toward their recoveries with a smile on their faces.

She has thrown herself into her fundraising; she is currently half way to her target of £1000, a fantastic achievement! She has also organised a raffle to encourage even more sponsorship; where you can win tickets to participate in a Tough Mudder and be an adventurer like just like Heather! Visit her Facebook page here for more details; https://www.facebook.com/RaffleForStGeorges/

Heather had this message to say to the staff at St George’s Hospital; ‘There are not enough positive words in the world to express what an incredible job you all do. On a daily basis you’re saving lives, making people smile and just being awesome! From the bottom of my heart I thank you, because without your hard work I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now. The impact you have on people’s lives is everlasting.’

If you would like to support Heather in running the London Marathon 2019 and raising funds for St George’s Hospital Charity, visit her fundraising page here; https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/heather-gil-abillera-st-georges

Good luck Heather!

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