The amazing Kadeena Cox. In 2014 she was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke. Not so long after that, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. A national-level athlete beforehand, she's now a Paralympic, trailblazing legend.
Kadeena won Rio gold in two very different disciplines - cycling and track. A silver and bronze in relay events too. Holds some world records. Flag-bearer at the closing ceremony. Awarded an MBE. Shortlisted for Sports Personality of the Year. Appeared on a celebrity version of Robot Wars. She won that too. Also appeared on Celebrity Mastermind. Flunked her specialist subject on that one. (just goes to show you can't be perfect at everything. Mind you, serves her right for choosing Arsenal FC as her topic). Thoroughly lovely person, rarely without a smile on her face. It looks to me like she's having the time of her life, seizing every opportunity that comes her way.
Despite all this, she stayed - in relative terms - below the public radar. Then she announced she was joining the line-up for this year's 'The Jump' on Channel 4, where celebrities train for and compete in various winter sports disciplines, and at least in previous series, some of them get injured along the way. And all hell broke loose.... Her elite status sports funding was withdrawn for the duration of the programme. Various experts and celebrities piled in to question her wisdom in taking the 'risk' of competing in The Jump.
Kadeena gets more kudos points from me for sticking by her guns and for her frank response. "Imagine living life as a ticking time bomb," she tweeted. "MS has changed my outlook on life, so I'm gonna enjoy skiing."
"Go Kadeena (MBE)!" I shout...
Multiple Sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological condition in young people in the UK. There is no cure. Whilst it won't kill us, (it may shorten our lives a little, but hey...), from the moment we are diagnosed our life is one long stream of uncertainty. How fast will our condition progress? Nobody knows. Which symptoms will I develop ? Nobody knows. There's a huge smorgasbord of symptoms MS can choose to dole out to us after all. They call MS the 'Snowflake Disease', because no two of us are the same. Kadeena could have years, maybe decades ahead of her without any significant worsening of her condition. But there's a chance she won't. Time to seize the moment and live life to the full.
I'm a year or twenty older than Kadeena. I'm in a wheelchair most of the time, and can hobble a few wobbly yards on crutches when I'm not. I have a huge bucket list of things I still want to do, to achieve. And a sadder list of regrets that I try hard to bottle up. Things I wish I had done whilst I was able. Other things I wish I could still do but are now denied me.
Please don't wrap us in cotton wool. We are still desperate to live, to laugh and to love. Lots of us still have ambitions. Maybe radically different ones because of mobility, pain, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, vision issues. Whatever. I know my limits, I know the boundaries, though I push against them as best I can.
Kadeena Cox shouldn't be denied this latest, fabulous, slightly bonkers opportunity. I have never watched 'The Jump', but I'll be tuning in this year.