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Eglinton backs WHM for brain tumour charity

24 August 2016

The village of Eglinton is pulling together to raise money in support of The Brain Tumour Charity with a large contingent of runners putting their best foot forward for the Waterside Half Marathon (WHM) taking place on September 4th.

Following the recent diagnosis of a brain tumour within her family, local resident Vicki Spratt decided that she wanted to raise awareness about a medical condition that is notoriously difficult to spot.
Around 20 members of the Spratt family and friends have registered to take part in the annual WHM organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council. The north west’s most popular road race which is now in its 35th year, will see Half Marathon Runners/Wheelchairs and 3-Person relay teams compete in the 13.1 mile course which leaves from Ebrington Square crossing over to the cityside and finishing at St Columb’s Park.

Hundreds of budding younger athletes and those looking for a less challenging run will be taking part in the 2k Family Fun Run, with many of the participants fundraising for their chosen causes, like The Brain Tumour Charity which is the focus of a big community effort in Eglinton.
A number of the Spratt family and friends are running the full WHM, and they also have four relay teams taking part as well as the kids joining in for the 2k Family Fun Run.

Vicki Spratt explained: “It was only after a visit to the local optician in the town that we were first alerted to the possibility that there may have been something more than just an eye condition”. 
Following the advice of the optician, the Spratts subsequently attended Altnagelvin Hospital where an MRI scan revealed the presence of a brain tumour.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body and it is a primary tool in the identification of brain tumours.

Vicki continued: “We had dismissed the symptoms ourselves primarily as being due to an eye infection and we put the fatigue that was being shown as due to over working.  The last thing we thought was that it might be a brain tumour. It turned our world upside down.

“From living a normal life we were suddenly thrown into a world that no-one is equipped to deal with. Had it not been for the prompt action of the optician we might have had a very different result. Following the formal diagnosis, a successful course of treatment was undertaken and as things stand the prognosis is pretty good.

We were lucky – others are not. It is a fact that most people will not have their brain tumour diagnosed straight away. The symptoms that might reveal the presence of a tumour are often mistaken for other things such as stress, growing pains, panic attacks, migraine, sinus problems…the list goes on.  We know that nine times out of ten it won’t be a tumour but you can never be sure.

“We now understand that GPs report that they might come across a brain tumour only once or twice in their professional careers. Mercifully it is rare but we would always urge them to think – might this be an indication of a tumour? – it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Vicki and her family do not want what happened to them to happen to anyone else.
“We are doing the run in order to alert people to the need to be Brain Tumour Aware. The Brain Tumour Charity is the leading organisation in the UK today supporting families coping with a brain tumour and we want to raise money for them so that they can support more people locally diagnosed with the condition.”

When Vicki suggested doing the half marathon to family members she was blown away by their response.

“We now have around twenty doing it.  I wouldn’t say that we would be in the running for an Olympic medal but we have been so touched by the willingness of family and friends – who come in all shapes and sizes – to help support this marvellous cause, and it’ll be great craic”.

As well as the run, the family have also organised a quiz and disco. The Quiz Night is being held on September 10th at the Eglinton Cricket Club. The doors open at 7.30pm with the quiz kicking off at 8pm, and disco afterwards.

Vicki added: “Everyone is welcome. The more people know about brain tumour awareness the more lives will be saved.  Brain tumours remain the biggest cancer killer of the under 40s and more has to be done to combat it.

“As a family and as a community we are all pulling together. We don’t have an overall target but I would ask people to dig deep and support this very worthwhile cause.”
You can join the Spratt family as they fight to beat brain tumours, by going to the just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Vicki-Spratt

Ricky Devlin, The Brain Tumour Charity’s Operations Manager for Northern Ireland, said they were fully behind the Spratt family and also looking forward to the Waterside Half Marathon on Sunday, September 4th.

He said: “Around 400 people a year will be diagnosed with a brain tumour in Northern Ireland.  There are more than 100 types of brain tumour and each case is unique. It is one of those cancers where there hasn’t been much progress in the last 30-40 years and The Brain Tumour Charity is investing £25m in research and support.

“We are so grateful to the Spratt family for the support that they have shown us. To anyone out there affected by the diagnosis of a brain tumour I’d encourage them to contact me at The Brain Tumour Charity. We offer information, support and advice. We all want to beat this terrible disease but we need your support to do it”.

The Brain Tumour Charity is currently also funding ‘HeadSmart: be brain tumour aware’, a UK-wide campaign to reduce diagnosis times of childhood brain tumours. For more information, visit www.thebraintumourcharity.org

While entries for the Waterside Half Marathon main competitions have now closed, a few places are still available for the 2k Family Fun Run but you are urged to register fast to avoid disappointment. For more details, visit www.derrystrabane.com/halfmarathon.