I'll do anything to support my family

19th September 2017

Bob Frake, was “the world’s unhealthiest man” until the shock of finding out his wife Cath had severe heart failure while pregnant with their second child.

The couple were briefed about the risks childbirth could have on Cath’s heart and as a C-Section wasn’t an option, a normal birth with epidural was chosen.

Thankfully, Cath went on to deliver a beautiful baby daughter Erin – now three – at 38 weeks with a cardiac team present throughout.

Bob took time off work to care for their son Ryan as Cath underwent scans and tests as she struggled with severe fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations and light-headedness.

As Bob recalls: “It was a very stressful time. Our ideal picture of a normal, happy family was shattered. I had a five-year-old son, a newborn baby and an ill wife to help.”

Cath was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy with left ventricular non compaction, along with left bundle branch block, which increased her symptoms on exertion.

“Cath had many difficulties around the home, especially with the stairs and because of this, we ended up selling our forever home and moved to a more practical bungalow,” Bob explains.

Cath had a CRTD-Pacemaker fitted and in August 2015, was medically retired from her job at Tesco’s where she’d worked for 20 years.

As the impact of Cath’s illness hit Bob, he realised the importance of being healthier and fitter for his family.

He says: “I began doing sit-ups waiting for the baby to get back to sleep after night feeds and shed 10lbs in the first week. This gave me the incentive to carry on exercising.”

Bob, a training officer for the Royal Mail, set up a multi-gym in his garage and took out a lot of his stress and frustration on working out.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet led him to getting the results nobody imagined he would achieve.The “world’s unhealthiest man” disappeared and Bob lost a total of 31/2 stone over 12 weeks.

Nine months ago, Bob started running and within a few weeks, had worked himself up to a 10KM run.

“I never particularly liked running, but I found it quite addictive. I wanted to get quicker, then go further,” he explains.

Bob decided to put his achievements to good use and had always intended to raise funds and awareness for Cardiomyopathy UK, when the time was right.

“That time is now,” he says.

Bob signed up for The Robin Hood Half Marathon on Sunday, September 24 and topped the £1,000 mark in his first week of fundraising.

“Cath is proud of me and my efforts to raise money for a charity that means a lot to both of us,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the couple try to remain positive that maybe one day, they can something that resembles “normal family life”.

As Bob says: “Cath is still hoping for symptom improvement. Life is tough and she often has to sit on the sidelines as I do all the activities and outings with the children and wherever we go, it has to be somewhere with a minimum amount of walking. But I will do anything I can to support her and my amazing family. Despite all the difficulties we face, we do it all together.