Inspiring NUTRITECH athlete, Bruce Campbell’s battle and winnings against Pompe.
NUTRITECH Athlete Bruce Campbell is a passionate combatant of life who eats sleeps and breathes by extreme activity. For any given athlete, the fitness levels required to be able to partake in competitions like Xterra, Ocean Series and Ironman 70.3 are on another level. However, the case is different with Bruce. His story is much like the one of David and Goliath, except in this instant Bruce’s Goliath goes by the name of Pompe that takes the form of a lifelong chronic disease.
Pompe is a Glycogen Storage disease which affects the enzyme that breaks down sugars and carbohydrates in one’s body. Glycogen is the fuel that aids muscle tissue when doing exercise. Bruce explained, “I have to monitor my heart rate very closely while racing or training that it does not go to high. At high activity intensity your body only relies on glycogen as fuel for your muscles and so when my body looks for glycogen and cannot break it down, it turns to my muscles and starts to break them down for fuel to carry on which is what causes me great pain in exercise. Sometimes my muscles are just deteriorating whilst racing.” Pompe inevitably becomes progressively worse and will begin to negatively affect his heart, lungs and other parts of his body besides for his muscles. An Enzyme Replacement treatment is available, however this treatment is excessively expensive and needs to be approved by Bruce’s medical aid before any action can begin to take place. He is currently undergoing the proceedings of tests which are sent abroad in order to undergo the required treatment, in other words, the race to the start line of his recovery is out of his hands.
In the mean time, Bruce appreciates every other aspect that life has to offer. He has changed his diet to assist as a short term relief; he surfs, does extreme mountain biking, swims ocean races, competes in Ironman and still has the energy to keep a smile on his face for the love of his life, Tracey, and their canines, Litchi and Busta. The challenges Bruce chases are considered impossible to most, however these challenges spoken of come with a cause, the cause to create awareness. He works hand in hand with the Pedalling4Pompe Charity as well as Team Juan- A Journey of a Lifetime, who is a little boy that too has Pompe and fights for his life daily. Bruce mentioned, “I am not only raising funds for the charity but creating greater exposure to the many rare diseases out there that doctors are overlooking these days and I am helping others who are suffering with unexplained medical conditions get tested and possibly find the diagnosis of their conditions”.
His most recent challenge took place when he competed on the weekend of the Ironman 70.3 in Buffalo City. The report Bruce gave us on the day of the race reads, “The swim was great, I came out the water in 2nd place, had a good bike, I was even holding back to save my legs for the run but with my disease it just hit me so hard and I experienced so much pain in my legs, I found it a great challenge just to walk. I had to lie down on the side of the road for a while and then I kept thinking of the reason I am doing it for, for the rare disease charity and I knew I just had to finish. So I just tried to walk and ended up walking 12km and then managed to walk/jog towards the end. I am very happy to have finished and shine light on rare diseases and show people what can still be done even when the doctors say you can’t. One step closer to treatment and then I will be up there with the top guys once I am being treated”.
Our question to you in reading this article is, how is it that you honour the life you have been given?
-Article by: Robyn Furstenburg
-Photography: First picture, Mark Andrews, last picture, Dean Venish.