- Kelly Fowler has used rugby to help deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Start your rugby journey here
When she was 15, Kelly Fowler’s life was changed by the two words her doctor used to explain why she had been living in pain for so long.
Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis has been a daily battle for Fowler, and for a long time she struggled to manage the condition.
That was until she accepted an invitation from a friend to try rugby for the first time seven years ago. It was a decision that changed her life.
“I didn’t want it to rule me”
“Being told you have a lifelong disease is devastating to hear,” says Fowler, who is now 31.
“Rheumatoid Arthritis may not always be a life threatening disease but it is life changing and it took a long time for me to understand what was happening to me.
“I went from being a young, fit teenager to taking daily medication, having monthly blood tests and lacking the energy to do basic activities.”
Fowler began using the gym to stay active but it wasn’t until she went along to Bracknell Rugby Club that she realised how much of an impact a team sport could help her.
“A friend of mine asked if I could play so I went along to a training session and I was absolutely hooked.
“I found that the pain in my joints went away when I was playing rugby. It keeps me active and mobile, so physically it has been really beneficial.
“But also I have just loved being part of the rugby family. I felt part of a team for the first time in my life and it gave me an amazing group of friends."
Joining the rugby family
Fowler is now at Crowthorne Ladies where she continues to play every week.
“I didn’t want my condition to rule my life and rugby has allowed me to control it and live how I want.
"I met my husband through the club and now my step-daughter is playing too so rugby means a lot to me.”
This week Crowthorne Ladies hosted their Warrior Camp to help introduce new women to rugby and Fowler is keen to encourage women to take part.
“This sport has literally changed my life. I’ve had amazing times with my rugby family and created memories I’ll never forget.
“When you’re passionate about a sport then no matter what life throws at you, chronic illness or not, you can get through it.”
To start your rugby journey, find a Warrior Camp near you here.