Anthony Boscher suffers from ankylosing spondylitis. Despite the omnipresence of pain and against the advice of his doctor, this boxing fan took up an ultimate challenge: to get back in the ring one last time.
His first symptoms start very early. He is only 6 years old. “I suffered from severe pain in the lower back which prevented me from sleeping. At the time, I was told that it was linked to my growth“recalls Anthony Boscher, 37 years old and father of 2 children. The diagnosis of the disease does not come until late, when he is 23 years old. “I practiced boxing intensively, several times a week, nurturing the desire to participate in competitions”. One day, during training, Anthony feels particularly bad. “The doctors then diagnosed me with a disease of which I had absolutely no knowledge. I didn’t understand. At that time, all I cared about was being able to live normally” recognizes the Norman who suffers from inflammatory attacks in the eyes (uveitis) and swelling in the fingers. “My neck, lower back and intestines are also affected. Since last year, I walk with a cane“. Following the diagnosis, Anthony says to himself; “what’s next, Is there a treatment and if so can I benefit from it?“.
“You can be a carrier of the gene without showing symptoms”
Doctors put him on treatments but none seemed to work. “The rheumatologist who gave me the diagnosis offered to test a treatment that seems to be giving good results. Fingers crossed.” To date“we know that the disease has a genetic component but it is possible to be carrier of the gene without showing symptoms. After, how the disease is triggered remains a mystery” he explains. Following his diagnosis, he discovered that some of her cousins also suffer from SPA. “On a daily basis, I am surrounded by a medical team that accompanies me: attending physician, nurses, neurologist, gastroenterologist, rheumatologist and ophthalmologist. I consult them regularly, seeing them almost every week on an alternating basis.” he explains. Former press officer in the cinema, he now works in the public service. “I had to face a drastic change because of the intense pain caused by my illness. I became the only 100% telework public servant because I cannot sit or stand for more than 20 minutes at a time“. On a personal level, the loss of autonomy is the most difficult part to bear. “Gardening or household chores are the kind of activities that I had to put aside. Even when I feel relatively well, I find it difficult to bend or kneel“. Fatigue is very present. “I try to minimize the impact on my personal life as much as possible.”
“I got back into the ring against the advice of my doctor”
The proof, Anthony launched a “ultimate challenge“.”I got back in the ring for one last boxing fight [éducative]“. On June 24, 2023, he fought against another man, 28 years old and also suffering from SPA. Anthony took lessons with a professional boxer and took advantage of this challenge to achieve a documentary on his illness and his fight, “Spondyfight”, scheduled for the end of 2023. The doctors were not in favor of his boxing fight project, physiotherapists being concerned about the risk of injury. “My doctor had put his vet a few weeks before the fight because I have been detected significant disc herniation. I stepped into the ring against his advice“acknowledges Anthony. “It was a very intense moment.” That day, he feels no pain, “maybe because of the adrenaline?”. The fight, consisting of 3 rounds of 2 minutes, is very tough. Once finished, the tears rise under the blow of the emotion and the proud to have reached the end of the challenge. “I came out with bruised ribs, a concussion and it got me a discomfort and a stay in the hospital for a few days” admits the young man. On the family side, if his children of 7 and 9 years old are admiring, “my wife was very worried and she made me promise to quit dares and combat sports”. For Anthony, this fight will remain in the image of the one he leads against the disease, “even if I go down on one knee, I get up and face him, like my opponent.” Anthony won’t step back into a ring, but he’s still got “walking, cycling” and his determination.
“You always have to keep hope”
To other patients with ankylosing spondylitisAnthony would like to remind you that you must not be afraid, that you must ask questions to the medical profession and especially talk about it to those around you. “Pervasive pain, from sunrise to sunset is difficult to accept, especially when nothing manages to calm her down. But it’s important to have hope. And then we must not forget that some sufferers live well throughout their lives” notes the young man to conclude on a positive note.
Thanks to Anthony Boscher for his testimony. Interview on July 18, 2023.
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