[First published on the Yorkshire Evening Post – 4th September 2019]
A mum is aiming to help give Cardiomyopathy the KO by taking part in a charity boxing bout to raise awareness of the disease which claimed the life of her dad.
Francesca Shaw’s dad Michael Mardell lost his fight to the incurable disease in February 2016 aged just 54.
Michael was a well-known figure in Sunday football league circles having played for both Torre Social and Fforde Green during the 1990s.
Tests at Leeds General Infirmary have confirmed Francesca has not inherited the Cardiomyopathy gene but her younger brother has, prompting her to embark on a fundraising drive.
The mum-of-four from west Leeds is aiming to raise money for Cardiomyopathy UK by taking part in a White Collar Boxing match this autumn.
Her bout will form part of White Collar Fighter event being held at the John Charles Centre for Sport on Saturday, October 5. The 30-year-old will find out who she is fighting a week before.
Francesca said: “Boxing requires good cardiovascular health and a lot of fitness. My father lost his health at such a young age but I am hoping I can win this fight for him and raise money for a charity that in the future may end up supporting my brother.”
To get her prepared for the bout Francesca is currently training twice a week at the Golden Team Thai Boxing Gym & Fitness Centre in Hunslet. In addition, she is also working out at Explosive Fit in Farsley with a personal trainer.
“Whilst working full time and juggling four children this is going to be a huge challenge but one in which I am really looking forward to. Without our hearts what do we have in health, love and life?” she added.
Joel Rose, chief executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, said: ‘’Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that affects over 160,000 people of all ages in the UK and is sadly the main cause of sudden cardiac death in people aged under 35s. This condition affects the heart muscles and structure of the heart and reduces its ability to pump blood around the body.
“Some people have few symptoms while others are severely affected and it usually runs in families so it is vital to know about any history of heart disease in your family and to tell your doctor. Symptoms include being tired, breathless, chest pain and swelling in the ankles and stomach.
“Our aim is to enable people at risk of or diagnosed with cardiomyopathy to live long and fulfilling lives. Although incurable, the condition can be treated with medication, devices and sometimes operations.
He added: “We are most grateful to Francesca for raising funds for our vital services for families affected, such as our medical helpline, and for helping us to raise awareness of the condition. You can find out more about cardiomyopathy via our website: www.cardiomyopathy.org or call our helpline number on 0800 018 1024.’’
* For more on Fran’s journey and to support her fundraising efforts visit: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/FrancescaShaw