Cindy Abbott Spreads Awareness for Rare Disease by Training for Iditarod
Cindy Abbott discovered after 14 years of having the disease that she had Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare vascular disease where the immune system fights blood vessels. In order to raise awareness for rare diseases, Abbott decided to take on the feat of running the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Abbott is no amateur to maximum adventures. She took on Mount Everest in 2010, and ever since she has been looking for a new venture. She has joined forces with Lance Mackey, a four-time Yukon Quest and Iditarod champion, to take on this next challenge.
Abbott’s disease, which is incurable and usually fatal is treated with 16 pills per day. The
disease has left Abbot blind in her left eye. To most, this would be debilitating and demeaning, but Abbott took a different approach. The reason why she gravitates towards these great feats is to raise awareness for rare diseases. With 7,000 rare diseases that affect less than 200,000 people, Abbott has pledged to give everything she has left to raise awareness.
“Her attitude’s always been positive,” Mackey said. “She’s smiling even when she’s going in the wrong direction.”
Training has been no easy task, however, starting with her limited vision affecting her depth perception. Further, she has faced interference with blood circulation in her extremities and has had difficulties managing her disease while riding a dog sled. When Abbott has to take a pill, she must control the dog team, while grabbing hold of her medicine and some water.
Despite Abbott’s detrimental circumstances, Abbott finished the Yukon Quest 300 qualifier last season and although it was the only qualifier that she finished, she was beyond proud.
Abbott will continue to give everything she has to train for Iditarod and spread awareness for rare disease.