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“I Had Blood Pouring Out of My Nose”: After a Debilitating Condition Wrecked Her Ability to Stand, 40-YO Single Mother Trained Herself to Win a Bodybuilding Competition

Published 09/18/2023, 4:06 PM EDT

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At first glance, you wouldn’t think Hannah Aitken had faced a lifetime of chronic health challenges. A successful corporate branding business owner and a single mum, her strength is evident in more ways than one. But her journey has been anything but easy. Aitken is a testament to resilience. At 40, she’s a force in the corporate world and, in April, she took gold at an Auckland bodybuilding competition.

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Yet, it’s her battle with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) that underscores her extraordinary determination in fitness. Her first signs of this chronic central nervous system disease surfaced when she was just 17. By 24, she’d lost her vision and was diagnosed with MS after rigorous testing.

A lifetime of battles for bodybuilding


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Many might feel defeated when confronted with such challenges. But not Aitken. Even when bedridden with pneumonia just two days before an interview, she remarked, “I’ve never let having MS stop me doing anything. A couple of days ago, I had blood pouring out of my nose. But I was determined to be ready for this interview – and I am.”


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MS isn’t entirely uncommon in Hannah’s family. Her uncle, diagnosed at 39, quickly succumbed to its debilitating effects, confined to a wheelchair soon after. But where others might see cautionary tales, Aitken saw lessons.


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Despite the exhaustion, numbness, and other alarming symptoms, she refused to admit defeat. Her journey through university showcased her grit. As her symptoms became more pronounced, she sought counsel, only to continue her studies until overwhelming fatigue made it impossible. Hannah recalls, “I didn’t want to be sick. I was having fun and trying to enjoy my life. I thought it would be easier not to know.”

The single mom defied all odds


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But the signs couldn’t be ignored for long. Treatments followed her diagnosis, ranging from effective to harrowing, leaving her sometimes bedridden or with physical scars. Life had its ups and downs, with her precious Billyrose being one of the brightest spots, arriving just as she was turning 27. Hannah’s indomitable spirit also led her to the gym, where on tough days, she’d even load weights onto her walker.

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However, 2019 delivered a blow as uncontrollable trembling took over her legs at a concert. By 2020, she was admitted to Auckland Hospital, where a daunting revelation awaited: she had forgotten how to walk, a common but distressing MS symptom. Through sheer will, grit, and a supportive medical team, she relearned the basics – standing, turning, walking.


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Watch this story: Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Eight-Time Mr. Olympia Winner Ronnie Coleman Who’s Wealthier in 2022

It was around this time that her then-boyfriend introduced the idea of bodybuilding. Scoffing initially, Hannah soon embraced the challenge. Her tenacity culminated in a gold medal win at a bodybuilding competition, defying all odds and assumptions about her condition. What do you think about this inspiring tale? Let us know in the comments.



Taha Tariq

118 articles

Taha Tariq is a Bodybuilding writer at EssentiallySports. He holds a Bachelor's Degree from a premier University and brings with him prior experience in managing social media campaigns and conducting market research. Bodybuilding and MMA have always been of significant interest to Taha, inspiring him in his professional writing and personal fitness journey.

Edited By: Abhishek Manikandan