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Dancer set to lose her locks for charity
A dancer took heavy medication after being diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease to appear at her 12th Swindon Mela, and is now raising awareness of the condition.
Dorothy Clarke is often seen as the face of the Bollywood Dreamers, and is now battling against the debilitating disease.
Dorothy was diagnosed with anti-synthetase syndrome on September 6 after months of dismissing the tell-tale symptoms.
“It started with the outward signs,” she said. “I developed a rash on my hands and began getting very tired.
“I had just come out of a very heavy period of work, so I put it down to over-exertion. But by June it started to progress, and really erupted all over my hands.
“The doctors started treating me for my hands, but I was getting arthritic knees and finding difficulty getting up the stairs. They thought it was dermatitis at first, because some of the other symptoms they could not see. I was having muscle cramps, and my breathing was being affected quite badly.”
Eventually Dorothy was seen by a doctor who had just published a paper on anti-synthetase syndrome and he diagnosed her straight away.
“Things moved forward pretty quickly. They gave me quite heavy medication for the performance at the Mela, and I was so pleased I was able to do that. I only managed a five minute dance, but I have been doing the Swindon Mela for 11 years and I wasn’t going to miss it.”
The journey will be long and difficult but Dorothy is remaining positive.
“When treatment started I went into some very strong steroid medication and some rounds of chemotherapy to tackle the problems with my legs,” she said. “I have ended up putting my hands into all kinds of chemicals, which is stressful, but also gives me some hope. I have made a conscious effort to keep my spirits up.
“I am going on holiday soon to take a break from it all, but when I come back I will go into another three months of chemotherapy. The doctors will be keeping a close eye on my X-rays and CT scans, and I will be on the steroids for another two years, because it has affected my muscles quite badly.”
The decision to shave her head was an easy one, she said.
“I will be losing quite a bit of my hair anyway, so I thought I might as well put it to good use and raise some money. I thought about all the Swindon charities I have worked with, but I chose a women’s project in India working with women who have been sexually abused. It is a project close to where I used to live in Goa, and I have been supporting them for a long time now.”
Dorothy will be having her head shaved on October 25 at 1pm at Kateson Body Care, Unit 33, The Arcade, in support of Bailancho Ekvott. Donate by email: email@example.com
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