Worthing woman to fund-raise after beating meningitis

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HAVING contracted and beaten meningitis twice, a Worthing woman has decided to raise money to help others struck down with the disease.

Lisa-Joanne Parker is going to compete in the Nike Run to the Beat half marathon in London next month, along with friend Shelley Dodman, to raise money for Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

The 26-year-old, of Mansfield Road, had the disease when she was 16, and again at age 20.

She said: “The first time I got it, I was at school and I started to get a headache after lunch. By the time home-time came around I couldn’t even walk – my friend had to carry me to the car – it comes on that quickly.

“The second time, I felt the same symptoms and I told my mum and she couldn’t believe it. She said ‘you can’t have it again’ but it’s such a distinct feeling, I knew it was.

“Both times I was rushed by ambulance to hospital, where I was put in isolation, by which time I was unconscious and unresponsive.

“It was so scary. The virus took control of my body in hours. I don’t remember anything about arriving in hospital, because I was so unwell I just didn’t care where I was, but the staff were fantastic.”

Each time when Lisa-Joanne had the disease, the medical team had to give her the life-saving treatment she needed, as the disease can be fatal if not treated speedily.

They gave her intravenous drugs and anti-viral medication and performed a lumbar puncture to diagnose the meningitis.

She was told by doctors she had been at no greater risk of contracting the disease for a second time, and that she was just very unlucky to get it twice.

“Getting the drugs in really quickly was vital, because basically my whole system was shutting down. The first time I had it, my mum said they put me as a priority above a heart-attack patient, because of how sick I was,” she said.

“Recovery was slow and I suffered headaches, sickness and developed heart palpitations, and although I am a lot better now, I still suffer from a heart complaint, believed to be brought on by the virus. But I feel lucky I am able to lead a healthy life and this is mainly because of the effectiveness of the medical team, and, of course, the research that goes into being able to diagnose quickly.”

She added: “The advertising, such as all the posters put out by the MRF, is vital, so people know what symptoms to look out for and to be vigilant. We are running for all the people who have survived meningitis, to raise funds to find a cure and to raise awareness of the symptoms.”

Chris Head, chief executive at MRF, said: “We rely on voluntary donations to fund our vital work into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia, so every bit of support enables us to continue our work.

“We are extremely grateful to Lisa-Joanne and Shelley for signing up to run on our behalf but we still have a number of places to fill to help us raise even more money for our fight against deadly diseases that can kill in hours.”

MRF still has a few charity places available in Run to the Beat. For further information, call Genna Vizard on 01454 280414 or email gennav@meningitis.org.

To sponsor Lisa-Joanne and Shelley, visit www.justgiving.com/lisa-fountain-johnston0