Growing up together, Katie Lawson and Sammy Armstrong had everything to look forward to - travelling the world, finding their dream jobs and falling in love.

But a cruel twist of fate has left Sammy, who turns 29 next month, battling several rare and complex illnesses.

It means Sammy, of Hethersgill, near Carlisle, is now virtually bedridden, and she has had to accept the fact that she may never fulfil her childhood dreams.

Step-sister Katie is so desperate to help that she is ready to face her biggest fear to raise money for Sammy, to help improve her quality of life and seek out new treatments.

Katie, who grew up in Aspatria and went to school in Westnewton, has signed up for a bungee jump on May 19.

She explained why. “My step-sister Sammy is seriously ill and because of that I’m going to do something that absolutely terrifies me.

“I’m petrified of heights. Even thinking about steps with gaps between them makes my stomach tense and my breathing a bit faster. I’m genuinely concerned that I might freeze halfway up, let alone at the top,” she said.

Sammy’s illnesses include Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which affects her joints, mobility and leaves her in constant pain, and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which causes extreme fatigue, dizziness and severe digestive problems.

She can’t sit with her legs down for more than a few minutes without fainting, which means she has to use a special wheelchair that keeps her legs raised, and her condition is rapidly worsening.

Katie said Sammy has to battle just to stay conscious, and looks on simple things like having a shower as a major achievement.

On the other hand, Katie is now living in Norwich with her husband and is fulfilling many of the dreams the pair spoke of as children.

She said: “Sammy and I have known each other all our lives. She’s the same age as me, so it’s hard not to compare Sammy’s life to mine.

“I studied at university, taught English in Thailand, travelled the world and am now training as an occupational therapist.

“Sammy like all of us had ambitions. She started university to complete an early years degree with the aim of one day becoming a headteacher, but had to leave after a year because she was too sick to carry on.”

It is this that has inspired Katie to sign up for the bungee jump, and she is now appealing for donations.

Katie said that the more she can raise, the more reason she will have to go through with the terrifying challenge.

Every penny she raises will go into Sammy’s Health Fund, which helps her to access specialist medical treatments that is not be available on the NHS and fund any equipment she needs.

To support her visit or email

More information about Sammy and the fundraising campaign can also be found at the Sammy's Health Fund Facebook page.