TWO decades ago Joan Flockton noticed difficulties in using her hands.
In 1995, Mrs Flockton was visiting her GP when he asked her to squeeze his hand and while able to grip, she was unable to release.
She was later diagnosed with muscle weakening and stiffening condition myotonic dystrophy.
Mrs Flockton, 55, is now supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s 10k Town and Gown run in Oxford, which is backed by the Oxford Mail.
The event, on Sunday, May 11, takes in the historic city centre and the University Parks.
Mrs Flockton, of Homestall Close, Botley, said: “I was told it could be inherited and they discovered my sister also had the same condition.
“I have had difficulties in that in the past I have fallen over. I fall forwards and hit my head.
“In the last five years the muscles in my legs have got loose. The muscles in my ankles and legs are the worst.”
Today, Mrs Flockton has little flexibility in her hands and struggles to write a letter or sew, alongside having difficulties walking longer distances.
She is having physiotherapy – a service that the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign lobbies for – which eases her symptoms and helps prevent falls.
Myotonic dystrophy symptoms, which are unpredictable and can occur at any age, may include muscle weakness in the face, jaw and neck, heart problems and cataracts.
Some children affected by the condition are also born with learning difficulties.
Mrs Flockton, who lives with husband Alan and sons Aaron, 17, and Steven, 15, added: “There is research being done which may be able to help, but it is very hard for me to pick things up, especially off the ground.
“When we are out I use my scooter and often one of the boys will hold my hand to stop me falling over.”
Mrs Flockton hopes a treatment can be found to stop the progression of her condition and she is encouraging people to help the charity fund research which could help.
She said: “I think the more people who know about the condition and run in the event will help to raise awareness and money for research.”
More than 2,000 runners have already signed up for this year’s event. It is hoped the run will build on record years in 2012 and 2013 to attract 4,000 runners and raise £150,000.
To sign up, visit townandgown10k.com