March 2014 - After several months of trying for a sibling for Rhydian, I had a very early miscarriage. A few weeks later I learnt that I had a Brain Tumour on my pituitary gland. It was a further 6 months before we found out that my tumour was benign and was the “best” type to have if you are going to have a Brain Tumour. All through that time all I could think about was how I was going to get rid of it so I could still be around for Rhydian. Strangely enough I don’t remember much about that 6 months - I guess it was my way of coping. You can imagine the relief Chris and I felt when we were told it was benign. To me benign meant everything was fine. We were told until the tumour had shrunk and my reproductive system started working again, we wouldn’t be able to have children. “Fine” we thought, “let’s get cracking with treatment”. Whilst the doctors were extremely positive it soon transpired that everything was very much trial and error, not to mention a huge amount of “wait and see”. Not a great prospect for the world’s most impatient person! I spent the next 18 months taking medication that made me feel unwell, dealing with the side effects and trying to get pregnant. In that time I found out that I was higher risk of Endometrial Cancer, higher risk of Osteoporosis and if the tumour got bigger then I could lose my peripheral vision. Benign wasn’t quite so fine anymore…
September 2015 – Still no luck on the pregnancy front! At this point I was told that my reproductive system hadn’t healed properly and that having more children was highly unlikely. I was also told I would probably be on medication for the rest of my life to keep it under control. The same medication that is known in our house as “those fucking tablets” (Sorry Mum!) thanks to the side effects. I was totally gutted. I felt like a failure as woman, failure as a wife and a failure as a Mum. I couldn’t even give my son the sibling he kept asking for. I felt like my whole world was on hold, everyone was moving forward except for me. My body was useless and I was worthless.
28th November 2015 – I woke up from the most hideous hang over ever and had a lightning bolt moment. Unsurprisingly, I had spent the 20 months feeling worthless, eating and drinking crap, wallowing and completely focussed on what I wanted but couldn’t seem to have. I was the fattest and unhealthiest I had ever been in my life. Something had to change! I decided that rather than focussing on what I didn’t have, I would focus on what I already had – My beautiful boy and amazing husband. I felt an overwhelming need to make myself the best person I could be, both for them and for me. I couldn’t carry on hating myself and being so bloody miserable. I realised that I had to change for me. In my mind I wanted to be the strongest, healthiest and fittest I could possibly be. I started by focusing on my food and drink intake, quickly dropping a stone before Christmas and keeping it off.
Next step was to find a goal. Monster Race popped up on my Facebook timeline and I thought “Why not?” No one would expect me to do a muddy, obstacle course race – much less in winter! Funnily enough it was always something I had wanted to try but had never been brave enough. It also gave me almost a year to get ready for it. So I joined a gym and hired an awesome Personal Trainer specialising in obstacle course racing. By that point I had decided to focus on my tumour as being the kick up the bum I needed to start appreciating my life. 2016 was about living as fully as possible, appreciating what I had and pushing my limits. Over the next few months I achieved more than I ever thought was possible. My whole life changed radically with this new found perspective. I also felt like Monster Race wasn’t going to be enough of a challenge for me. It had turned out I was pretty good at all this training malarkey! So I signed up for the ultimate obstacle course race – Tough Guy!! Given that a third of the applicants don’t complete the race due to injury or the onset of hypothermia this was going to be the biggest challenge of all!
My tumour gave me my life. I’d like to say “back” but I’m ashamed to say before my diagnosis I took life for granted, I didn’t make the most of every opportunity I had I always focussed on what I didn’t have rather than what I had. So whilst benign is NOT fine, it is most definitely better than the alternative. Chris and I have both lost friends to Brain Tumours, we have friends that have lost parents and relatives to Brain Tumours, we know people that are currently battling them now. Brain Tumours are the most underfunded of all the cancer research projects going on – Knowing that and what I’ve experienced with a “safe” Brain Tumour how could I not do my races for The Brain Tumour Charity?!
Please donate what you can. There are so many people, too many people, that are nowhere near as lucky as I am.
Text HCEV83 £5 to 70070
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The Brain Tumour Charity is at the forefront of the fight to defeat brain tumours, making a difference every day to the lives of people with a brain tumour and their families. We fund pioneering research to increase survival, raise awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours and provide support for everyone affected to improve quality of life. We are committed to having the biggest possible impact for every person affected by a brain tumour, and to defending the most amazing part of the human body.