A rider and her beloved horse are taking on a marathon challenge for a charity helping to find a cure for brain tumours after both their lives were affected by the disease. Jenny Jones took on her loan horse, Bertie, after his owner died from a brain tumour. Jenny’s son Calum was also diagnosed with the disease in 2013.
The pair have since taken on the Jog 26.2 Miles in May Challenge for Brain Tumour Research. Keen equestrian Jenny is clocking up the miles through a combination of riding and walking Bertie in-hand, to raise awareness and fundraise to help fight and find a cure for brain tumours.
Calum was 19 when he was diagnosed with a grade 1 glioma in January 2013. Doctors initially thought he was suffering from migraines. Calum, who is now 28, was referred to Evans and Jones opticians in Llandrindod Wells in Powys, Wales, after he began to suffer visual disturbances. The optometrist sent him to A&E at Hereford County Hospital after noticing his optic discs were full of fluid which was a result of intracranial pressure.
Mum-of-two, Jenny, who has worked in nursing for 39 years said: “Being in the healthcare profession helped me understand Calum’s diagnosis but it didn’t make it any easier to accept. It’s a tricky balance trying to remain his mum, but also knowing the medical side of things too.”
Following a lumbar puncture and CT scan, which came back clear, Calum’s condition worsened and a second opinion saw him referred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where an MRI scan revealed a mass on Calum’s brain.
He had a second operation to save his eyesight and relieve the build-up of pressure on his brain, however due to its location, the tumour itself is inoperable.
Calum has since completed his motor mechanic course and is nearing the end of his first year studying engineering at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David Technium (UWTSD) in Swansea.
“Following his diagnosis, Calum suffered from low mood and on his 25th birthday he had three grand mal seizures,” Jenny said. “From that point, something in him changed and he decided to go back to college; his outlook became much more positive”
Calum now has three-yearly MRI scans to monitor the tumour and his last scan in October showed it is stable.
“I know that Calum’s tumour can change and become more aggressive, it’s something we live with every day,” Jenny said. I want this disease to be gone.
“I’ve now got Bertie on permanent loan and I have since found out that his owner died from a brain tumour – doing the challenge with him feels even more special now.
“I’m excited for the challenge and really hope that together, Bertie and I can help other families who may be living with their own diagnosis.”
Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “Calum’s story is a stark reminder of how indiscriminate brain tumours are, affecting anyone at any age, yet historically just one percent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
“We’re determined to change this and are so grateful for the support of people like Jenny whose fundraising efforts enable us to continue funding vital research and to, ultimately, find a cure.”