Members of a brain tumour support group will be among those taking part in a canal-side Walk of Hope in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire for the charity Brain Tumour Research.
On Saturday 24 September, members of Brain Tumour Buddies will be among those to take on an 11-mile Walk of Hope along the Grand Union Canal from The Three Locks pub in Stoke Hammond to The Grove Lock pub near Leighton Buzzard and back again.
Brain Tumour Buddies, run by Chris Brown, is a support group consisting of around 13 members which keeps in touch via WhatsApp and meets up once a month.
Chris, who started the group after connecting with brain tumour patients on Facebook and at a cancer event in Aylesbury, said: “It’s a fantastic group; we’re like a family that shares our problems and our good news. It’s so nice to be with other people in the same situation who know what it’s like to be living with this dreadful disease. You can just be yourself, and it’s great for me to know that I’ve helped people, in some cases in their last few months of life.”
The 37-year-old, of Chesham, Bucks, was diagnosed with a cancerous mixed germ cell tumour (GCT) in May 2012 after an optician referred him for tests for double vision.
He underwent a successful craniotomy but a subsequent scan revealed that he had a second tumour, later identified as a pineal germinoma.
Chris – whose ordeal was captured in the BBC Two documentary Brain Doctors soon after his diagnosis – then underwent a biopsy for his second tumour followed by radiotherapy and Gamma Knife surgery.
He has since married his wife Ruth with whom he has four-year-old daughter Bethany and, although his tumour causes him extreme fatigue, it has remained stable for 10 years.
He said: “I suffer from cancer-related fatigue so am tired all the time. I’m extremely happy but very tired! I support Brain Tumour Research and its Walk of Hope, which I last did five years ago, because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I have. I’ve lost quite a few people from the group and have seen many others with side effects, some of whom are in a terrible state, so know I’m quite lucky, dare I say it.”
The Grand Union Canal Walk of Hope is an easy, family and dog-friendly walk but participants will need to be able to cross the locks. It is possible to finish at the halfway point but anyone doing this will need to arrange transport back to their car.
Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “This beautiful canal-side walk is an old Brain Tumour Research favourite and I would encourage anyone who is able to take part to do so. Not only is it a great social event in the outdoors but fundraising for it is a great way to support the work we do.
“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. It is only by working together that we will be able to improve treatment options for patients and, ultimately, find a cure.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
To find out more about this Walk of Hope, or to register to take part, visit www.braintumourresearch.org/fundraise/stoke-hammond-walk-of-hope.