'Thinking of the impact it's had on us kept me going' - Litlington's Sass to take on London Marathon after meningitis affects three members of same family
PUBLISHED: 09:18 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:51 06 April 2017
A Litlington mum-of-two is running this year's London Marathon to raise funds and awareness of meningitis after she, her baby daughter and her father-in-law all contracted the disease within two-and-a-half years.
Sass Pledger is to take on the 26.2-mile distance in London on April 23, three and a half years after falling ill with viral meningitis.
She told the Crow that in October 2013 she was at home feeling unwell: “I don’t suffer from migranes but I thought maybe this is what one was.
“So the next day my husband Ben went to work.
“It progressed and I laid down on the floor in the living room in excruciating pain, I called my husband and said call a doctor.”
“I was rushed to hospital, and things were so serious Ben was left wondering how he would raise our then one-year-old son William by himself.”
Sass was treated and recovered, but still has problems with fatigue and memory loss.
“It was emotional and it affected my confidence,” she said. “I because of the tiredness you can’t get out and exercise, which doesn’t make you feel good.”
In January 2016, her then 10-week-old daughter Georgiana was struck down with the disease.
Sass put Georgiana to bed as she had a grisly cough and a cold.
“I gave her Calpol and put her to bed, when I checked on her, she was really hot, her temperature was extremely high, and her feet were blue.
Sass drove to Lister Hospital in Stevenage, and said that by the time they got there, Georgiana’s temperature had gone up.
The consultant sent them home, not knowing at that time she had enterovirus meningitis.
“I made it half way back and he phoned me back said I have a feeling you need to come back.
“Georgiana deteriorated further, they took her to isolation, and she had a lumbar puncture. One more hour and things would have been a lot different.”
““She is alive, but she now has hearing problems and wears hearing aids.”
Sass’ father-in-law Tony has also recovered from the streptococcus strain of meningitis, diagnosed after he collapsed at his Anstey home weeks after Georgiana, now 18 months old, was diagnosed.
His wife Jan recognised the signs from Georgiana’s illness.
Meningitis isn’t thought to be hereditary, but Sass has been contacted this week by the Meningitis Research Foundation who have invited them to take part in a research study to increase understanding of why only some people are affected by meningitis or septicaemia by using DNA samples from families where more than one family member has been affected.
Sass, who works for Cambs County Council and is also a parish councillor, has trained for the marathon for six months and to raise money for the research charity.
“Training was hard, but the impact it has had on our family kept me going. I thought of every time I sat with Georgiana and heard the heart-machine flutter and thought is this it,” she said.
“I was angry, so I put all of that into running. I hate running but throughout the winter I did it, when Storm Doris was on I was out in it.”
“With cancer, there’s often a cure and they can often still do something after it first starts, but with meningitis, most people are waiting for the rash and by then it’s too late.”
So far Sass has raised more than £2,000, to add to her total go to her fundraising page www.justgiving.com/Sass-Pledger