Support me on my Ride Across Britain 7-15 September, cycling 980 miles in 9 days this September raising money for the British Skin Foundation!

Raising funds for the British Skin Foundation goes towards a cause very close to my heart that I know goes further than my own skin but also in support of those who I care for deeply. The money raised goes towards medical research and trials for a wide range of skin diseases - ACNE, SKIN CANCER, PSORIASIS, ECZEMA, VITILIGO, MELANOMA. So, for SKIN'S SAKE, please donate and follow my journey over the next 2 months @cyclingforskinssake on Instagram.

I was diagnosed with Psoriasis (auto-immune skin disease) at 2 months old, have had it ever since and will more than likely have it for the rest of my life - there is no cure. Living with chronic pain inside and out, doctors diagnosed me with a multitude of issues: tendonitis, irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis (let's just park it here and say they were all wrong). They advised me to 'be less active', 'try meditation', 'pick up swimming again' - my answer: 'Thanks but, no thanks'. Limiting the capacity and strength of my body has never been my cup of tea (see CrossFit, Cycling, Touch Rugby, Weightlifting, Triathlon).

At 21, that chronic pain was diagnosed as Psoriatic Arthritis - systemic swelling of the joints. I began a non-biologic treatment and found my lifestyle much less inhibited by pain. It was like finding the holy grail, but the most expensive one possible.

My treatment for P/PA costs on average $3,000 USD a month without insurance ($200 co-pay). I'm not a math whiz, but that is not sustainable for ANYONE. Living in the UK has drastically reduced my costs to £8/month, but each time I go to the register to pay for my prescription, I truly do count my luck. Essential healthcare should not be a luxury for only those who can bear the costs.

While the NHS and private health care can really make a difference in your health treatment options, it all starts with a willingness within yourself to make a change and take an initiative. When I cried to my doctors as a child that my skin was hurting, peeling and bleeding they threw steroids at me and told me to Google to foods that triggered my breakouts - this does not exactly inspire hope that you will ever live a normal life.

If I achieve anything with raising awareness it is that you know you are not alone in your pain and to not let anyone tell you NO! You are stronger than you think! x THANK YOU.

Izabella Arnold