Meet Sam Blade

Name: Sam Blade

Age: 25 years old

Where do you call home? Sydney and Melbourne

Tell us a little more about you. My journey with FA began at the age of 15. At that moment, I confronted the realization that some of my passions and goals were no longer within easy reach. This period marked a chapter of mixed emotions––mourning the loss of certain aspirations and abilities, adapting to new realities, finding a renewed sense of purpose, and rediscovering bits of myself I thought were lost due to FA. While I can’t claim to have it all figured out, my path has seen its share of ups and downs. Nevertheless, I’ve found my footing and made strides in learning to play my cards right.

In 2018, my life took an unexpected turn when I stumbled upon Wheelchair Fencing while pursuing a Bachelor of Security Studies. Fast forward to 2023, and I’ve decided to devote 100% of my energy to forging a career in sports, aiming to represent Australia and the FA community. Beyond the fencing arena, you’ll find me spending time with friends and family, chilling with my strange loyal pooch, Pax, reading a good book, cultivating a mini urban farm in the backyard, and capturing candid moments on film.

What is a current goal you have with your education? I’ve done a few years in both Psychology and Security Studies, but realized that career-wise, a desk job doesn’t suit me––both mentally and physically. Because of FA and my passion for sport, I feel I need a better understanding of how my body works and how I can best maintain it in the long run. This has made me interested in health science and I plan to start studying in that area in 2024.What’s a typical day for you? A typical day for me revolves around walking my dog Pax, collecting ripe fruits and veggies from the garden, preparing meals for the day, commuting to the city, and training/exercising.

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? For cardio, I use an arm cycling machine. Taking the long way home/work––I may get off the train/bus one stop before where I usually get off and push myself the rest of the way. Strength training is also very helpful.

What is a good trick to make daily life easier? Keeping a paper trail and cardio! Both work wonders for ADHD!

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? When FA gets me down, I’ll set out to do one of three activities that help cheer me up:
1. Garden
2. Catch up with friends
3. Exercise with PT

What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? I think FA helped me understand life’s ups and downs a bit faster than most around my age.

What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Keep moving! Never stop or you risk stagnating mentally and physically!

What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? I’d book a flight to Melbourne, take the train to Castlemaine, travel to my childhood homes in Harcourt and Chewton, and walk/run around in the fields. I would then travel back to Melbourne and proceed to celebrate with the boiz.

Did your diagnosis impact your friendships and relationships? If so, in what way? My diagnosis did have a notable impact on my friendships and relationships. While some friends drifted away, the majority remained. It became a mutual learning experience, where both parties gained insights into my abilities and comfort levels. I acknowledge that the challenges during that time were understandably tough for me and my family, and I take responsibility for any strain on friendships. It’s possible that I may have unintentionally distanced some friends, but I’m grateful that those with close bonds persevered and remained supportive.

What is your favorite part of your education or work/career? My sport keeps me active, and mentally engaged, and keeps my production of serotonin up

What are your Favorite movies/books? Top 3 Movies: There is No Evil, Chicken Run, The Fifth Element
Top 3 Books: Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

Please note that this post represents an individual’s experience and is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor about the safest and best way to manage your FA diagnosis.

Interviewed by
Dragana Obadic