When Leighton mum Catrin Ireland was given the devastating news she had a meningioma brain tumour, her reaction was instant and totally out of character.
“I found myself crying and swearing – which isn’t like me at all – while my husband kept trying to hug me,” she recalls.
“It was May 23, 2011, a day we’ll always remember because we should have been celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary.”
The news was even more shocking because Catrin, 41, of Camberton Road, had had no symptoms.
A routine eye test had revealed the nerves at the back of her eye were raised, which indicated a build up of pressure, but she had no idea of its significance.
Within two weeks she had been referred to a neurologist and had an MRI.
“I genuinely thought there was nothing sinister,” the mother-of-two remembers. “But I knew something was wrong when I was called back in on the Sunday . . . although never in a million years did I suspect a brain tumour.”
Catrin underwent nine hours of surgery but it was too risky to remove all of the tangerine-sized tumour.
Since then her life has changed dramatically. She has been left with vision and balance issues, dizziness and extreme fatigue. Her dreams of qualifying as a teacher have been dashed and she’s had to surrender her driving licence.
Her illness has also impacted on her family and she pays tribute to her wonderful husband Lindsay. “Never have the words ‘In sickness and in health’ been more tested,” she smiles wryly.
Then earlier this year her father, Keith Evans, was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma brain tumour.
Catrin says: “Thankfully his is non-life threatening but it will affect his balance, hearing and – if he has surgery – he may end up with stroke-like nerve damage.
“I think because of my experience, we have coped much better with his, as we are armed with so much more knowledge now. He’s started a support group in his area for fellow sufferers and I help out.
“Just 20 percent of patients survive five years so I count myself very lucky on that score.
“It’s a sad fact that brain tumours can affect anyone at any time but no-one knows what causes them.
“The harsh reality is that treatments for patients like me and Dad are very limited.
“I hope people will help us change this by running the 2017 marathon for the charity.”
The London Marathon takes place on April 23 and many who’ve received sought-after ballot places are still deciding which charity to support.
Brain Tumour Research community fundraising manager Carol Robertson says: “For too long, brain tumours have been a neglected cancer.
“Stories like Catrin’s remind us that we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue – which is why we’re appealing for runners to nominate us as their chosen charity.”
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