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Belfast mum who suffered stroke while pregnant steps out for cause

By Rachel Martin

A Belfast mum who had a stroke when she was just 10 weeks pregnant is calling on people from across Northern Ireland to 'Make May Purple' to raise awareness for the charity which helped her to recover.

Lisa Lecky will be joined by her family on the Stroke Association's Step Out For Stroke walk in Antrim this Sunday.

The charity is calling on the Northern Ireland public to sign up to raise awareness about the impact of stroke, and share information and advice on how to help prevent the condition.

Lisa's world turned upside down in March 2015 when she suffered a stroke while 10 weeks pregnant with her second child, Orla.

Life for the 39-year-old changed in a flash, from eagerly awaiting the birth of her child to wondering if she or the baby would have a normal existence - or even survive.

Waking up in her hospital bed, Lisa could not move her left leg and left arm. Once her medical condition stabilised, she feared never being able to look after her children.

Lisa faced an uphill battle over the ensuing months as she underwent stroke rehabilitation, all while coping with the usual pressures and worries of pregnancy.

She spent six months hospitalised, far from her life with partner Adam and 13 month-old son Conor.

Luckily, baby Orla was born healthy in September 2015.

Although greatly relieved at the birth of a healthy baby girl, it was agonising for Lisa not being able to lift or feed her new-born baby. The young family moved in with Lisa's parents, who shared the caring duties, allowing her concentrate on intensive rehab.

Lisa focused on regaining mobility and making a full recovery, and she has now started a phased return to her job as an administrator.

"At what should have been a happy time for my family, I spent time worrying over how I could be an active mum to Orla and Conor," she said.

"I've lost the use of my left arm permanently and I have limited mobility in my leg.

"But I feel lucky as I never lost my speech and cognitively I'm OK.

"My family have been incredible - I feel very lucky to have such strong family support.

"My initial recovery goal post-stroke was to take my daughter Orla for a short walk around the park - which I am now able to do.

"I never thought I would be able to get back to work.

"At the moment I'm just building my hours up to see what I'm capable of but I love being able to get back to work and completing another milestone after my stroke."

Lisa said her next goal is getting back to driving.

"I would love to not have to rely on anyone to get places or just be able to take my children out for the day without having to plan it in advance," she said.

"My goals for the future are to be physically strong and fit enough to be able to look after my children on my own for long periods of time and complete and sustain my return to work."

"I'm so grateful for all the support I received when stroke struck my family and I want to help the Stroke Association help other people affected by this terrifying condition".

Carmel Lavery, recovery coordinator with the Stroke Association said: "Sadly every year there are more than 4,000 strokes in Northern Ireland. By supporting Make May Purple you can help us to support more people like Lisa and to raise vital funds for innovative research into stroke care and treatment."

Lisa will also be joined on the walk by fellow stroke survivor Clodagh Dunlop - who beat locked in syndrome and has recently returned to work as a PSNI officer.

The pair became friends while in Musgrave Park Hospital.

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