Bouncing back to help
Despite suffering a debilitating neurological disease for much of the past two years Alicia Knell considers herself lucky.
The 16-year-old is improving and is hoping to recover fully from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a mysterious disease that affects the nervous system and causes incredible pain.
Thanks to some great treatment and a positive attitude the Remuera schoolgirl is back on her feet and looking forward to trying new things.
But not all who are struck down by CRPS are as fortunate and Alicia is using her newfound energy to help others.
In particular she is fundraising to get a medical assistance dog for friend and fellow CRPS sufferer Ailsa Lipscombe, 21.
Miss Lipscombe's experience with the disease has been different to Alicia's and she is now permanently disabled.
Trying to get the $20,000 to fund the dog has become a focus for Alicia, who did a 5km fundraising walk before Christmas.
She has so far raised nearly $2000 for her friend.
To walk that far is a major milestone for the youngster who in the past two years has spent plenty of time on crutches, been in hospital and endured excruciating pain.
Her schooling has also been interrupted and her social life suffered too.
She is now happy to give back.
"She really needs it," she says of the help she is giving Miss Lipscombe.
"It's so difficult to diagnose, it takes ages for people to figure out what is wrong with you."
Alicia's mum Lydia Knell says raising awareness of the disease is her family's goal.
Getting a diagnosis and treatment is not easy. Failure to spot the symptoms can result in lifelong disabilities.
"Alicia had good care after she was diagnosed in 2012, we got her into a pain clinic at Auckland Hospital.
"Ailsa was diagnosed when she was 13 and had little to no care and the disease has spread throughout her body and to her eyesight, so she needs a disability dog to stop her falling."
Visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/aliciaforailsa to donate to Alicia's cause.
East And Bays Courier