After looking at maps for hours, I developed a desire to go out there, explore and discover. So, in 2009 I decided to cycle from Switzerland to China. Since then I’ve cycled more than 40,000km, crossed 28 countries, exchanged thousands of smiles and fulfilled many incredible dreams!

 

However, my world was shaken last year. I discovered a new companion in my life called ankylosing spondylitis. All the time I’d been cycling I hadn’t realised my pain and stiffness were due to AS, I thought it was only related to mechanical issues. I kept finding excuses and did all I could to keep cycling.

My symptoms worsend I kept cycling because I was doing what I love. I  couldn’t and simply didn’t want to believe that something was wrong and that my loyal body which helped me to live through all those amazing adventures had changed. I completed my last mountain pass while coming back to Switzerland, my body and my bicycle were giving up… so I decided to see a doctor

 

During the my journey to diagnosis , I changed from a fit, flexible and active cyclist, to not being able to walk, braid my hair, get out of bed, sneeze without falling apart or put on my socks. I lost confidence in myself, in my body, in my life. I didn’t recognise who I was.

 

When I was eventually diagnosed I started to learn more about AS and finally found hope. I realised knowing and understanding my symptoms and condition was the first step to start climbing back up that steep hill I had fallen down.

From then I decided that I would find ways to continue living my life and accept AS as a part of it. I decided to strive again for what is important for me.

With a lot of patience, determination, self-care and the help of anti-inflammatory drugs, very slowly I started to become active again. I aimed daily at tiny goals, then I steadily increased them accordingly to my day to day condition activity. It worked!

Now I am able to walk 10 000 steps again and even run a few miles. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe how far I have come, but I did. And my mental well-being has started to improve as well!

 

Today I am convinced that being so active for so long had helped me to cope with my symptoms and maybe slowed down the illness. What I’m absolutely positive about is that doing what I enjoy the most has allowed me to go through the worst times and helped my mind to stay focused on my dreams.

 

I am a traveller, I am an adventurer and I’m not giving it up. Each day is a gift, even if it’s difficult to unwrap, and I’m not going to let even one day slip by me.  So even though a diagnosis might be heavy on the shoulders and can be very hard to accept, it can also be the beginning of a new journey. the journey to hold on to what you love the most, to stay alive and to do everything you can to make it happen. No matter what circumstances you are now in, keep believing in what you deeply want because you might be able to find ways to make it happen. But more than anything try to do things that you love and have meaning for you because that’s what counts! Don’t let AS take your dreams away.

 

A Swiss (Laetitia) cycled more than 30,000km to China and met a Canadian (James) at a martial arts school. Since then, their roads became one, and the bicycle tour bug was passed on. They have created the Hope in Motion project, raising awareness of AS and continue their journey! You can follow their trip through the Europe on Instagram @hopeinmotionlife

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