Posted by: Chelsea Hampton | July 27, 2012

Olympians Who Face a Different Kind of Challenge and are Still Going Strong!

This time of year marks an incredibly exciting time – the 2012 Summer Olympics! As if an Olympic sport isn’t already challenging enough in itself, some athletes are faced with additional hardships that affect their health. The stories of these Olympians are inspiring, but also serve as a reminder that chronic illness and disease can affect anyone. Rather than be defined by a disease, these individuals learned to manage their diagnoses and haven’t let illness deter their goals and dreams. A message that seems to resonate among these stories is that it is important to be realistic about a condition, which means adequate care, symptom management, and realizing one’s limits. Read on for the stories about how these Olympic athletes continue to persevere in spite of serious health issues. Like anyone who battles these kinds of issues, their determination and strength serves as inspiration for all.

Peter Vanderkaay – Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay was diagnosed with asthma at the age of ten. Asthma is a chronic lung disease which can present a scary and frustrating battle for breath. With proper management and care however, asthma symptoms can be controlled. Peter learned this at an early age and didn’t let asthma deter him from his athletic goals. Read more on Peter’s perseverance and living with asthma on the American Lung Association website:  http://www.lung.org/about-us/our-impact/top-stories/making-a-splash-olympic-gold.html.

Carrie Johnson – The Olympic kayaker was the first from the United States to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, and has been preparing again for the 2012 Games in London. Prior to all of this however, Carrie began having a variety of troubling symptoms including fatigue and stomach pain. The ailments hindering her athletic training were symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and her diagnosis came in 2003. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that can be debilitating, but with proper treatment and management, Carrie has been able to minimize her symptoms. Watch Carrie’s inspiring video on the Crohn’s & Me website: http://www.crohnsandme.com/crohns-disease-support/diagnosed-with-crohns-disease.aspx.

Kristin Armstrong – An Olympic cyclist and gold medalist, Kristin also holds a World Championship title. Kristin won gold in the 2008 Games and will now be competing in London. Kristin is experienced in a number of sports and had been a triathlete until 2001, when she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. She then re-directed her athletic focus to cycling and made the 2004 Olympic team. Read more on how Kristin recovered and persisted at Arthritis Today®: http://www.arthritistoday.org/community/people-profiles/kristin-armstrong.php.

Shannon Boxx – Olympian and women’s soccer player Shannon Boxx competed in the 2008 Games and is ready for the Olympics in London. Hardly a stranger to challenges, Shannon has been diagnosed with not one, but two autoimmune diseases since 2002. Through careful symptom management and self-care, Shannon has continued to be a competitive athlete in spite of having both Lupus and Sjögren’s syndrome. Pain and inflammation are common with these types of conditions, but adequate care can maximize one’s quality of life despite living with an illness. Read more on Shannon’s determination and winning attitude at USA Today’s website:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-07-23/shannon-boxx-lupus/56443924/1.

Eric Shanteau – The Olympic swimmer holds multiple records of achievement and will be competing this year in the London Olympic Games. Back in 2008 however, Eric was given heavy news that no one ever wants to hear – he was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis was testicular cancer, and it was right before he was to compete in the Olympic Trials. Eric made the team though, and decided to still compete in the 2008 Olympics, delaying treatment until after his return home. His decisions were far from easy, but he has continued to compete post-surgery and has been cancer-free for over three years. More information on Eric can be found in a story by Diane Pucin at the L.A. Times website:  http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/06/sports/la-sp-oly-swimming-shanteau-20120507.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

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