GIVEN 10% CHANCE OF SURVIVAL – BUT EXERCISE HAS KEPT JOSH ALIVE
AMAN with cystic fibrosis who was told by doctors he wouldn’t live to see his thirties has defied all odds and gone on to compete in extreme fitness challenges raising money for charity.
When Josh Llewellyn-Jones, 31, from Cardiff, was born, doctors told his parents he had a 10% chance of surviving and he would be lucky to reach the age of 30. He was operated on immediately as his stomach was swollen.
When he was two, a specialist doctor in America told him he would only survive through exercise which would clear the mucus from his body. His parents were told he simply had to commit to exercise to survive.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder which affects the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestine. It can result in difficulty with breathing and coughing up mucus.
“I started cross country at school and at 15 I was in the national championships for the under-21 age bracket. I never really talked about it too much to my friends. They knew I had it, and no-one looked at me differently because I was so fit,” he said.
Ever since, Josh has been a fitness fanatic and credits this for increasing his life. He admits that without his fitness regime he probably wouldn’t be alive today.
However, when he was 21, he was taken to hospital with stomach pains and was told he had a lower chance of surviving than he did as a kid, but again he pushed through and survived a seven-hour operation to cure his twisted intestines.
This has inspired Josh to take part in crazy fitness challenges to inspire those with cystic fibrosis not to give up.
Recently, the 31-year-old completed the Herculean task of lifting one million kilograms of weight in a day last week. He completed the challenge in 22 hours and 10 minutes, roughly 700kg an hour.
The task was completed at a gym at MOD St Athan and was supported by military training instructors.
He said: “The reason I do these challenges is to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis. It’s to show kids who have it to pursue exercise and not give up on their dreams.
“It’s not just for those kids though, it can be motivation for anyone, as exercise is so good for the body and for mental strength.”
Asked what his parents think of his dramatic efforts, he said: “They obviously get worried because the challenges I pick are pretty extreme, so like any parent they’re worried.
“But they’ve learnt to accept it and just let me get on with it – they’ve got no choice!”
Josh has gone on to raise more than £650,000 for various charities and has now started his own charity called C.F warriors. It encourages children with cystic fibrosis to take up exercise and provide support for the kids.
When he was 17, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and boxed former European heavyweight champion Scott Welsh. This event raised £120,000, and also raised his profile.
Josh is a motivational speaker and travels round telling his story.
“It was tough growing up with it. Exercise is what keeps me going. I can easily say if it wasn’t for exercise, I wouldn’t be here today. Exercise makes me feel amazing and allows me to push myself to the extra limit.”
His online support has reached children all over the world and weekly he gets hundreds of messages from children in Australia, Mongolia and many more countries.
“It’s amazing knowing I can help these kids. The support has been unbelievable and that’s what I do this for, to motivate others.
“This week I’ve had hundreds of messages with people donating, and also messages of support, it’s been quite emotional.”
The condition does still affect him and he has regular hospital visits, but he believes loving sport from a young age has helped him.
“Since I was a kid I’ve loved sport and I’m lucky because my siblings were also very sporty. So I got into football and cross country and just never stopped.”
Now he is planning his next journey, and hopes to complete a bike ride from Cardiff to Edinburgh.