Brain tumour woman completes marathon challenge

Gemma Child, was the diagnosed with a rare benign paraganglioma tumour at the start of 2021. 

Gemma Child, 30, walked home from work one day and started to feel ill. She soon realised her left ear was bleeding and was the diagnosed with a rare benign paraganglioma tumour at the start of 2021. - Credit: Gemma Child

A Welwyn Garden City woman with a brain tumour has walked 26.2 miles to raise money for charity. 

Gemma Child, 30, completed the challenge for Brain Tumour Research despite struggling to walk and stand still without falling over.

She first began feeling ill following a walk home from work when she realised her left ear was bleeding.

Gemma was subsequently diagnosed with a rare benign paraganglioma tumour at the start of 2021, which grew through her neck and into the brain.

She has since gone through multiple MRI, CT and PET scans, along with six weeks of intense radiotherapy.  

Gemma took a turn for the worst after learning the tumour has been stabilised but unfortunately has not shrunk.

The tumour had eventually been stabilised but unfortunately has not shrunk.

The tumour had eventually been stabilised but unfortunately has not shrunk. Gemma took a turn for the worst and felt ill after and was not sure about her future. - Credit: Gemma Child

She said: “When I got told I had a really rare tumour (two people out of every one million people get paraganglioma tumours) growing in my brain, it was during COVID, so getting told this, when I was in the hospital by myself was difficult, I felt numb but kept it together until I got home and that's when I broke down as it hit me all at once like a ton of bricks. 
 
“My first day of intensive radiotherapy was nerve-racking: I felt scared, confused and worried. IIt felt like someone was grabbing my lungs as I couldn't breathe, but with the amount of support and certainty I had received from Addenbrookes Hospital, it made me more at ease and more comfortable as the days went on during my six weeks of radiotherapy,  

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“They made sure to tell me roughly how long I would be in the machine for, checking on with how I was feeling and if I was concerned about anything, they would always be here to listen.”

Gemma explained why she decided to take on the 26.2 miles walk to raise money for the Brain Tumour Research: “Even though the tumour hasn't shrunk, I feel like it has woken me up to not let silly things get to me, to live life day-by-day without regrets and to go out of my comfort zone from time-to-time as we only live once. 

“I have never been so proud of myself for going through the worst thing that I have ever had to go through in my life, to get myself better, to feel so much stronger and to live life with positivity. With me being unwell I felt the need to walk 26.2 miles to raise money for the Brain Tumour Research to help others which I am super proud of too, I also received a medal for going beyond my target which I will keep forever."

Gemma managed to raise £375 for the fundraiser with the help from family and friends. 

A year on from her original diagnosis, the tumour is still in her brain but she continues to receive scans and tests to see if surgery will or won't be the best thing for her. 

Gemma said, “I am now going to the hospital a few times a year to have MRIs and blood tests done, to check on the tumour and to see what the next step is.”