Health Hero: Jessica Carreras

See Jess Run

Growing up with asthma, Jessica Carreras knew that she couldn't be very physically active. But she didn't give up and instead focused on her passion for writing. Now, Jessica is a writer and is also athletic, despite the limitations asthma has put on her life.

I became a writer because I couldn't become an athlete. While my brother was joining the cross-country team and playing soccer, I was using doctor's notes to get out of running a mile or swimming a few laps in elementary school gym class. It's not that I didn't want to participate; it's that I knew I couldn't possibly do it.

I was diagnosed with severe asthma after a bout with bronchitis when I was six months old. Visits to the doctor, breathing treatments, and an extremely overprotective mother quickly became a part of my life. I was a tomboy who wanted to be active, but would inevitably end up on the sidelines, wheezing and taking puffs from my bright blue inhaler. I can remember sitting at the front window of my childhood home, writing angst-ridden poetry while watching my brother head out for a run.

I spent plenty of time asking myself that big, unanswerable question: Why me? No one else in my family had asthma, and I felt as though there was something inherently wrong with me. I was depressed, unhealthy, and felt like a failure. I hid my asthma at all costs-even if it meant sitting through class or a sleepover at a friend's house while having an attack. Anything was better than being the subject of attention while struggling to breathe and using my inhaler.

As I got older, the doctors stopped saying, "Maybe it's just a childhood condition," and I realized that I could either die, or find a way to live with this disease. And not just live, but live the life I wanted to - an active, healthy, happy one.

Now, at age 25, I'm a full-time writer and editor (thanks to all that time I spent cooped up indoors) and, believe it or not, I'm training for my second half marathon. I use a fluticasone and salmeterol inhaler every day before running. But otherwise, I leave it at home.

Perhaps I will never be entirely independent of medication, but it's an amazing feeling just to be able to run. I feel physically good about myself for the first time ever because I feel strong and in control. My asthma doesn't run my life anymore. I've even started a blog about my experiences and I hope to inspire others who never thought they could ever run a marathon. It's called See Jess Run, http://jesscanrun.blogspot.com. Eventually, I hope to turn my story into a memoir.

I haven't done the whole 26.2 marathon yet, but I'm getting there. And that gym class mile around the track? No problem.

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