A former pub manager who was diagnosed with a meningioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, has spoken out about her condition and outined the symptoms that first alerted her to it.
Hope Louise, 47, who worked for JD Wetherspoon for 22 years, first became aware she was ill in June 2012 when she began suffering from double vision, tiredness, headaches and pain in her eyes.
A month later, she underwent a 12-hour surgery to have the tumour removed and has been having regular check-ups ever since.
She remains stable but continues to suffer with double vision as a result of the nerves in her eyes being severed and with neuralgia as a result of a brain injury she sustained, which she finds cold water immersion helps with to some extent.
Since being diagnosed, she has worked to inspire dozens of others to join her for a daily swim in the sea as co-founder of “The Pevensey Plungers”, which brings people together every morning.
It aims to help them experience the therapeutic benefits of cold-water immersion.
The mum-of-two’s group has has developed a large following with more than 200 people attending its monthly full moon plunges.
Ms Louise, from Pevensey, East Sussex, is now using her daily swim as part of the Brain Tumour Research charity’s Swim Challenge in August to help find a cure for the disease.
After deciding to swim 10km throughout the month she decided to turn her morning Pevensey Bay plunge into a daily swim to one of the bay’s 500-metre marker buoys, a challenge that has gained in popularity and now involves others from her group.
Now aiming to raise at least £2,740, the equivalent to the cost of funding a day of research at a Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence, Ms Louise said: “I saw the challenge and thought ‘right, I’m going to swim’.
“I’d only plunged before so thought I’d swim to the buoy every day I could and within a month I’d reach the 10km easily enough but I didn’t expect other people to join in, which has been lovely.
“No one goes out alone; it’s like having a whole other family.
“I’d thought I’d raise maybe £200 and anything more would be a bonus but within five days I’d reached £500 and now I’m over £1,000, with the help of others.
“One lady baked cakes and made £45 for me by selling them on the beach whilst another created a painting called ‘sea goddess’ and auctioned it off for £60. Everyone’s got involved and it’s really blown my mind.
“Now I’d like to raise the £2,740 needed to sponsor a day of research.”
She added: “I know so many people who haven’t been as lucky as me, many of whom were younger than I was.
“Brain tumours seem to get forgotten about more often than not but they’re so common and there are so many different types that we need to do more to understand them.
“I’m grateful I’m alive and know I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for past research so I want to support future research and help to raise more awareness.”
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet, historically, just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Our Swim Challenge in August is a virtual challenge that can be tailored to suit anyone’s ability.
“Participants have the option of choosing to swim 2.5km, 5km or 10km, or another distance that better suits them, taking to the open water, sticking to their local swimming pool, or doing a combination of both.
“Hope’s already done amazingly well with her challenge and with getting so many members of her community involved. We’re very grateful for her support and wish her and her friends well with their remaining swims.”
To support Hope Louise’s fundraising, visit her Facebook page.