Great South Run 2019: Mum with Lyme disease whose brain tumour went undetected for three years will take on the Portsmouth run

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AFTER Lyme disease and a brain haemorrhage turned her life upside-down Lisa Dunkley is on a mission to reclaim her independence.

The 38-year-old mum from Fareham will pull on her trainers and embark on the Great South Run for the first time on Sunday, October 20. 

Lisa Dunkley, 38 from Fareham, pictured at the launch of the Great South Run at the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on Thursday. Picture: Sarah Standing (310119-7865)

Lisa Dunkley, 38 from Fareham, pictured at the launch of the Great South Run at the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on Thursday. Picture: Sarah Standing (310119-7865)

Little more than a year ago she had tumour removed which despite bleeding on her brain and causing her ‘excruciating pain’ went undetected by doctors for three years. 

Fast-forward to now and she feels more like herself – but it has not been an easy road. 

‘It’s a very, very slow process but I am getting there,’ she said. 

‘Getting Lyme disease was life-changing because, with everything you do, you have to have a different mindset because everything is much more challenging. 

Lisa Dunkley, far left, at the launch of the 2019 Great South Run with prospective runners Cheryl Skedgel-Hill, Geoff Rees, Ellie-Mae Carter, double winter Olympic gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold and Dawn Dunsterville. Picture: Sarah Standing (310119-7842)

Lisa Dunkley, far left, at the launch of the 2019 Great South Run with prospective runners Cheryl Skedgel-Hill, Geoff Rees, Ellie-Mae Carter, double winter Olympic gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold and Dawn Dunsterville. Picture: Sarah Standing (310119-7842)

‘Sometimes you can’t even walk – you can’t get up the stairs – and people don't believe there’s something wrong with you.’ 

Lisa contracted the illness after she was bitten by a tick while tending to the overgrown garden of her new home in 2013.

As a result a tumour slowly developed on her pituitary gland – a vital pea-sized ‘master organ’ in the brain responsible for secreting hormones into the bloodstream. 

Now for the good of others suffering with Lyme disease like she does, perhaps unknowingly, she will take on the 10-mile Great South Run through Portsmouth in the year it celebrates its 30th anniversary – in a bid to raise awareness and cash for LymeAid UK. 

As the 2019 race was yesterday launched at the Spinnaker Tower by Lizzy Yarnold, Britain’s most successful winter Olympian, she said: ‘Awareness is absolutely vital – [Lyme disease] is now becoming an epidemic.

‘It’s something that can affect anybody and everybody and it doesn’t just happen in woodland areas. 

‘Early treatment, within hours, is essential to catch it before the infection takes hold.’ 

On her training so far, she added: ‘I used to run years ago so it feels like I’m being myself again.’ 

More than 19,000 revellers enjoyed the Great South Run last year – taking in the sights of Southsea Seafront and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard among others. 

Entries for 2019’s event are now open at greatrun.org/south