A mum-of-three is taking on a marathon challenge to help fund medical research which helped save her life.
Nicola Wiseman, from Lytham, underwent life-saving surgery nearly 10 years ago and is living with two heart conditions.
But the 37-year-old is donning her running shoes for the London Marathon, in April, in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
She aims to raise £2,500 for vital research into heart disease, to help put something back for the treatment she received.
Nicola – assistant headteacher at Kirkham St Michael’s CE Primary School – said: “If it was not for the brilliant, pioneering research the BHF carries out, I would not be alive today and I would not have three gorgeous children.
“Myself and thousands like me, owe the BHF our lives and this is my small way of saying thank you and helping ensure their research continues, to prevent further deaths and allow more people with heart conditions to live normal lives.”
In February 2005, in the middle of teaching a lesson, Nicola suffered a minor stroke.
While in hospital, tests revealed she had a mitral valve prolapse – where one or both of the mitral valve flaps in the heart don’t close tightly, allowing blood to leak from one chamber to another.
She discovered she had a congenital heart condition and had to have open heart surgery, in August 2006.
Nicola opted for a temporary repair of the value, as the more permanent solution of a valve replacement, would have decreased her chance of her having children while on medication.
She got married to David 10 months later and they went on to have three children – Ella Rose, now seven, Lily Grace, now five and Oliver James, four.
Nicola said: “It has been 10 years since my original surgery, my heart has deteriorated and I will need to have surgery again – to replace the valve.
“The doctors are monitoring me carefully and it is not yet known when this surgery will be.
“I have developed atrial fibrillation, leaving me with irregular heartbeats and I take daily medication to control this.
“Four years after my surgery, my dad Ed had his valve repaired using keyhole surgery.”
Nicola always hated sport at school, but after her surgery, discovered her local YMCA gym.
She watched the London Marathon on TV and dreamed of being part of it, but thought she would never be able to run.
But, inspired by friends who ran regularly, she decided to start running in May, and at first, couldn’t run to the end of the road without getting out of breath.
After doing the Race For Life, she “got the bug for running” and has been entering races ever since.
She applied for the London Marathon “on a whim” and was delighted to get a charity place.
“Every part of this journey will be a huge challenge – mentally, emotionally and physically.
“Not only do I have two heart conditions, but I work long hours as an assistant headteacher and have three young children.
“But knowing people are supporting me keeps me going.
“The BHF carries out research to help people like me and my dad, every day.”
* Visit www.justgiving.com/Nicola-Wiseman78 or text NWIS78 £(your amount), to 70070.