Charity champion Nicole Taylor has confronted the terrible news that her brain tumour has returned by stepping up her fundraising efforts – and stripping naked!
Friends of Nicole, an inspirational Brain Tumour Research ambassador and supporter, have happily joined her to bare all (or nearly all) for a calendar to raise funds for the charity.
Mother-of-two Nicole, 44, from Soulbury, was working as an area manager for a beauty firm in August 2007 when she visited her GP suffering with hearing loss.
Despite a grommet being fitted, further symptoms manifested themselves, including whining noises in her head, headaches, trembling in her arms, forgetfulness and difficulty getting her words out. The GP put it all down to stress and so Nicole, in the end, decided to give up work.
In February 2008, Nicole suffered a major fit and was rushed to hospital. A brain scan revealed a massive tumour the size of an orange on the left side of her brain.
She underwent a nine hour operation to remove the tumour which fortunately turned out to be benign, although Nicole continued to suffer with short-term memory, tiredness and seizures.
Shocked by her experience, and discovering that brain tumours were the biggest cancer killer of the under 40s, Nicole set up a fundraising group under the umbrella of Brain Tumour Research called Head 1st which has raised around £25,000 to date for the charity.
In March 2014, Nicole, who has not worked since 2008, was given the shocking news following an MRI scan that the tumour had grown again, this time to the size of a grape. She had recently got engaged to Phil Phillips and was looking forward to their wedding in July and going on honeymoon.
The team of doctors at University College London Hospital (UCLH) decided that she could wait to have treatment until later in the year.
Nicole will have a further MRI scan on November 26 and will learn the outcome results on December 8. She is hoping that this will involve gamma knife surgery, rather than radiotherapy (so that she can continue to drive).
Galvanised by the news that Nicole was facing further treatment, her friends are ever more dedicated to helping fundraise for Brain Tumour Research.
Lorraine Bateman of Linslade, explained how the naked calendar came about. She said: “What started out as an inebriated idea in a pub one night has now become a reality thanks to the hard work and dedication of some lovely locals from Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding area.
“My friend Hayley Ellis, also from Linslade, and I had just raised over £1,650 doing the Great North Run Half Marathon in Newcastle and wanted to carry on the charity work. We hit on the idea of doing a naked calendar and thanks to Ashley Lewis, a professional photographer and local of The Heath Inn in Heath and Reach, who just happened to be sitting nearby, slowly this idea came to life.
“Keeping costs to the bare minimum (excuse the pun), we were also able to bring on-board Clare Earnshaw, proprietor of Priory Press Printers in Dunstable and Sam Fay, a Milton Keynes-based graphic designer, who both freely gave up their time, cost (and bodies). All that was needed now were a few participants willing to show they were good with figures! And that was when Nicole and various friends of ours stepped in to strip for charity.”
Nicole added: “We are so grateful to Tracey Balen, the new owner at the Heath Inn who closed the premises one Sunday afternoon to enable us to do the photo shoot for our charity calendar.
“It was freezing cold that day and a lot of us were so scared about going naked that we had to have a few stiff drinks to give us some Dutch courage.
The Heath is also the venue for the calendar launch event which starts at 7.30pm on November 20.
Nicole said: “On the cover of the calendar is a teaser of what is to come – the whole sexy crew glammed up and wearing little black dresses.
“If you turn to March, you will find me strategically placed behind the bar, wearing a hat – as is a must on Wear A Hat Day which next year will be on March 24, towards the end of brain tumour awareness month.
“I am so grateful to everybody who got involved; it was really quite overwhelming. Each Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence needs funding of £1 million per year; that’s £2,740 per day, so I really hope the calendar flies off the shelves and we raise loads for this underfunded orphan disease.”
Carol Robertson, Head of Community Fundraising at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are so grateful to Lorraine and Hayley for their support, inspired by the lovely Nicole, who just gets on with life despite her ill health and always finds every opportunity to raise awareness.
“The calendar is a fabulous way of supporting vital research and will make a lovely Christmas present, whilst also representing a gift of hope for the thousands of people who are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year and their families.
“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national cancer spend has been allocated to this devastating disease. This is unacceptable!
“Brain Tumour Research is striving to fund a network of seven dedicated research centres whilst challenging the government and larger cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research. Help us fund the fight. Together we will find a cure.”
Calendars are £10 each and will be also be on sale at various local shops in Leighton Buzzard. See also www.facebook.com/BTRLadiescalendar.
For more information on Brain Tumour Research go to www.braintumourresearch.org