A mum-of-two from Ponsanooth who survived viral meningitis is taking on next year’s London Marathon to raise awareness of and funds to fight the devastating disease.

Leo Standing, 36, was struck down with viral meningitis five years ago and still suffers from the after-effects of the disease. But now she feels as recovered as she’ll ever be she is getting in shape to take on the London Marathon in April for Meningitis Now.

Leo became ill with flu-like symptoms in November 2012 when her son Oscar, now six, was just one. She had an unbearable headache, fever, vomiting and sensitivity to light. At first she refused to go to hospital but was convinced to go by her husband, Jim.

“A team of doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital immediately worked on me, suspecting I had meningitis," said Leo. "I was given antiviral and anti-bacterial meds intravenously immediately, had a lumbar puncture and was rushed for a CT scan.

“I was incoherent and then drifted in and out of consciousness for three days. When I eventually regained proper consciousness my fantastic doctor confirmed that I had viral meningitis and that with a couple of weeks in hospital they thought I should be okay.”

But the road to recovery was not straightforward and Leo started having problems with her eyes – seeing double every time she opened them.

“No one realised at this time that the virus had damaged my optic nerve,” she added. “Over Christmas my eyes started to suffer from rapid movement and spasms so straight after the New Year I was admitted to hospital again for three full days of tests and eight weeks with no reading, TV or phone – not easy.”

Gradually Leo’s eyes healed, but then other long-term effects started to materialise, including headaches, exhaustion, anxiety, loss of ‘intelligence’, shift in personality, confusion and struggling to keep up with normal tasks at work.

“These effects have been truly horrible for me, and of course my family too," added Leo."Over time some are fading, others have become managed. However, I feel I will never truly be ‘over’ my meningitis.”

Now Leo is keen to raise awareness about the impact of the disease as well as funds to help fight it. “People just don’t understand the long-term effects of viral meningitis and there needs to be better understanding and awareness," she said. "I have already had people, who've had a similar experience, contact me for advice.

“Doing something so demanding, so powerful as running the marathon, defying meningitis and the damage it caused and turning it into a positive experience feels like great closure on my meningitis experience."

You can support Leo's efforts through her online fundraising page at uk.virginmoneygiving.com and searching for Leo Standing.