Christine Wodke, author of “Running for My Life, Winning for CMT,” has long dealt with a lack of public awareness for her disease, Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), which is a neurological disorder whose victims slowly lose sensation and control of their legs, feet, and hands. When Wodke first told her friends and family about her CMT – some of whom already had the disease themselves – most looked back at her blankly. Some didn’t know what the disease was, or how it required people to adjust their daily routines around CMT’s often frustrating limitations. And, sadly, some just didn’t seem to care. Wodke remembers hearing one statement repeated over and over: “You look fine.” This is a sentiment heard by the victims of similar “invisible diseases,” like lupus. People assume that if you look alright on the outside, then you must be healthy. But, with CMT that just isn’t the case. Yet, rather than resigning herself to a life spent battling CMT, Wodke has become obsessed with raising public awareness for her own disease and other neurological disorders. Wodke’s story carries great weight, because she has spent many years training for and competing in marathons and triathlons across the United States, the training made that much more difficult by the fatigue, soreness, and pain brought on by CMT. “Running for My Life” takes readers on a course that has plenty of ups (like Wodke’s many medals, awards, and media mentions) and downs, including conflict with family, facing public scrutiny and antipathy from government organizations, and struggling to balance dating and her disease. But, as with any race, readers will reach the finish line feeling reinvigorated and inspired.
This book couldn’t have come to me at a better time. Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with social media knows about the ALS ice bucket challenge, a recent cyber-fundraiser to raise awareness for the neuromuscular disease. And, unless you work in the medical profession or have a family member or friend affected by the disease, I’m guessing you hadn’t heard of ALS before a few weeks ago – I know I certainly hadn’t. But after learning about it, how could you not want to help raise money for everyone affected by the disease? Before, if a person with ALS had revealed their condition to a friend, they might expect complete bafflement. Now, however, they can expect encouragement and general awareness of the disease and its adverse effects. In a similar manner, Wodke’s book illuminates a challenge-filled world that many of us have never even had to think about. By reading “Running for My Life,” we are helping to raise empathy for anyone who is affected by CMT or a similar condition. And isn’t the act of reading a great deal more enticing than dumping water on your head