IF you look up the word “inspirational” in the dictionary, chances are you’ll see a photo of Mersadies Cadalbert next to the meaning.
The Scone teenager, who was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome four months ago, will represent the Maitland/Newcastle diocesan at the NSWCCC State Athletics Championships next week.
For the St Joseph’s High School Aberdeen Year 11 student to be even competing at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush, on September 15 is an amazing feat in itself.
But, Cadalbert will hit the track for the blue riband 100m sprint, as well as the 16+ years’ relay.
“I’d usually contest more events, however I’m still not 100 per cent,” she admitted.
“So, to make the final – or record a PB (personal best) – is a good goal.
“Finishing in the top three would be incredible.
“And, if I don’t, I won’t be too hard on myself.
“To compete in Sydney is just as much of an achievement after everything I’ve gone through, combined with homework and training.
“I also had to repeat Year 11 at a new school.
“I’m still getting better – and taking each competition as it comes.”
This time last year, Cadalbert was bed-ridden for six months and then hospital/house bound for a further 10 with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.
“It was really hard,” she said.
“I’ve always been active and fit – riding horses or playing sport.
“But, I started getting tired.
“I saw a number of doctors, and no one seemed to know what was actually wrong with me.
“In fact, it was only four months ago I got diagnosed with both syndromes, which is rare.
“I’ve always enjoyed athletics.
“So, I returned to the track, using the aerobic exercise to combat the diseases.
“It’s helped me recover, although I’m still trying to settle everything down.
“People look at me as if to say ‘there’s nothing wrong with you’, but it hasn’t been easy.
“You have your good days, as well as the bad ones.”
Aided by medication, the 18-year-old competed at her athletics carnival in June.
She set two records in the 17+ years’ girls’ age group – the first in the triple jump with a 10.39m and the other in the 100m.
Cadalbert also won her 200m final, finished equal first in shot put, equal third in high jump, first in long jump and was named 2017 Queen of the Track.
“Not only did I achieve my goal [of competing], I secured results I never even imagined possible this year,” she said.
“It just goes to show if you have incredible family and friends supporting you, no challenge is too great to overcome.
“Even riding horses made me feel like I was normal.
“You don’t realise how strong you are until you find yourself in a situation like this.
“I’d like to thank my coach, Russell Sakey, for everything he’s done for me lately, both mentally and physically.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without him.”