Inspirational Runner: Casper de Vries
The skin disorder Vitiligo affects approximately 1% of the population globally, with no known cure or reversal procedure. 46 year old Casper de Vries from Kirstenhof in Cape Town forms part of the 1% afflicted by this condition. But this didn’t stop Casper from realising his dream to run a Half Marathon. Read on as Casper explains how he wouldn’t allow his changing looks to affect his quest to maintain an active lifestyle…
If all goes to plan, I will run the OMTOM Half marathon for my very first time. I have struggled with a rare skin disorder called Vitiligo since January 2015. A disorder which results in my losing skin pigment, but I do not let it stop me from being active and racing. I have entered the 2016 OMTOM 21km. I cannot wait and I am sure I will be so excited, that I will not be able to sleep the day before the actual race.
I developed Vitiligo at the end of December 2014. At first we noticed some white spots on my face. At that stage one`s thought is that it`s maybe due to a lack of vitamins and minerals. During March 2015 we noticed an increase in the spots which were now larger and had spread to my face. After consulting with two dermatologists, I was diagnosed with the illness.
I started with numerous treatments from creams to UV light treatments at Groote Schuur Hospital. It effects 1% of the population Globally and no proper cure or successful reversal procedure has been found. It's onset is linked to past trauma and stress. I have to be careful when going in the sun as it will spread or burn. I live in Kirstenhof, Western Cape 46 years of age, married and studying towards a degree in Education.
My wonderful wife supports me fully despite my condition. In the end it`s not about looks. You stand by your partner because of love. I will be competing for the first time in the Two Oceans and will be representing Spartan Harriers Athletics Club. The sickness brings about a lot of stares especially from people that know me from before. To see that I have changed in appearance.
Accepting who you are is the first step to this battle, I can`t change it but I can change the way I look at life, my habits and diet. I may look different but I am still the same person. To protect my skin I have to use a sun protector and protection active gear. Areas of concern is mostly face, arms and hands. Thank you for showing interest in my story. If I could I would have liked to do this for all Vitiligo patients out there, to show them you can still enjoy life fully and actively.
Casper will line up at the start of the OMTOM Half Marathon on 26 March 2016. Look out for him and cheer him on!