Mark’S Great South Run After Losing Wife To Dementia

Great Comeback 1

To enter the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit: Greatrun.org/South

A man who lost his wife to early onset dementia when she was just 44 years old is set to take on the Simplyhealth Great South Run in her memory.

Mark Borg, from Southsea in Portsmouth, is set to run 10 miles for the Alzheimer's Research UK after his wife Justine was diagnosed with dementia when she was just 42.

Justine worked as a mental health practitioner and was diagnosed with the cruel disease after a year of tests when she began to lose her memory.

The diagnosis was a huge shock to the family as Justine was only in her early forties and had to leave the job she loved and worked hard for. Initially, medics thought that Justine was suffering from depression.

The disease, which typically affects those aged above 65, completely changed Justine's life and she relied on the support of her family, practitioners, psychiatrists and an adult social worker.

The diagnosis took its toll on the family, with Mark having to juggle his job as a probation officer with looking after Justine and their five-year-old son Archer.

Tragically, Justine passed away in December, following a two-year battle. Mark decided that he wanted to use Justine's passing as a way of highlighting how cruel early onset dementia can be on the sufferers and their families.

He has recruited a team of colleagues from the probation office to join him at the Simplyhealth Great South Run in Portsmouth on Sunday 21 October for Alzheimer's Research UK.

Mark, 50, said: “Justine was diagnosed with early onset dementia when she was just 42. Around a year before this she began to act out of character, forgetting to do things which was not like her.

“It began to affect her in the workplace and she went through MRI scans which did not detect any abnormalities. It wasn't until a PET scan around a year later that we were given the news that she had dementia.

“By then the news had confirmed our worst fears, but even just a year previously we would never have imagined something like this would happen.

“The diagnosis had a horrific impact on Justine and the rest of our family. We had a young son, Justine was forced to give up the job she loved and it was very frustrating for her in the initial stages of her illness.

“Early onset dementia is far more aggressive, and medics were at a bit of a loss with us because Justine was so young and the disease is mainly associated with the elderly. “2016 and 2017 were both horrendous years, seeing your wife deteriorate and physically lose her ability to remember to eat. We just watched her fade away.

“I struggled seeing my wife who was so independent and intelligent suffer like that.

“It was a situation that I would not wish upon anyone and now I am gradually adjusting to a new life with myself and Archer.

“I would often run competitively before Justine's diagnosis and I have taken part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run before, so this year I decided to sign up and share my experience to show others what the horrific impact of dementia can be on the person, their family and friends.

“I hope to raise a lot of money to aid research into what is a very cruel illness.”

Mark will join four of his colleagues to run together as a team at the Simplyhealth Great South Run for the charity. The event features 20,000 runners who take on a 10 mile challenge every year across a course that celebrates everything that's great about Portsmouth.

Participants are able to run through Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and experience 17 music and cheering points across their run, before crossing the finish line on the sea front overlooking the Solent.

Mark hopes to raise over £1,000 and is well on his way to overtaking his target. He is also working with the authorities to use the family's extraordinary case as a way of improving care and support for those who suffer with dementia at a younger age.

He added: “Justine was an intelligent and bright person who was so good at her job, so it was very traumatic to see her as a completely different person which was so beyond the norm.

“It is so cruel because it stripped my wife of her personality and you as a family are forced to enter the new world. It's heart breaking to watch.

“I can only hope that by raising awareness about cases like ours, that enough people will be inspired to donate to research into finding a cure for the disease.”

To support Mark's fundraising, click here.

To enter the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit: Greatrun.org/South