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Fifty miles for a fantastic cause

Jayne McCarthy who had completed a fifty-mile walk to raise money for The National Hospital wrote this moving piece documenting her journey. Well done for such an incredible effort, Jayne.

In 1985 an acoustic neuroma was found on my left hearing nerve. Although this was benign I lost my hearing on that side. Ten years later, the tumour had grown back and was subsequently removed.

In 2001 after a scan at Queen’s Square MRI Centre it was discovered that I had a number of tumours growing on the lining of the brain –eleven in all – and I was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2. After another operation to remove one on the top of the head and a number of MRI scans over the years, my association with the NationalHospital has been a long one.

Whilst on holiday in Ireland last year, I decided it was about time I gave something back. I am not the fittest of people and I have an aversion to any form of exercise, let alone to push myself! Cycling and running were out, which left walking. For me to ask people for their hard-earned money I felt that I needed to do something substantial so Mark (my long-suffering partner) and I came up with a fifty-mile walk.

To maximize fundraising opportunities from my colleagues, I planned to start at Currys PC World Megastore in Stevenage and finishthree days later at Dixons’ Head Office in Hemel Hempstead going via the Distribution Centre in Stoke Mandeville.

I started my training in January and had covered 592 miles before the walk. I wore my Brain Appeal vest every time I walked to work, at lunchtime and from work, so the majority of people have saw me in my finery and were reminded to sponsor me!

I started walking from Currys Megastore in Stevenage on Sunday, 25th August and called a halt after eighteen miles. After not very much sleep, I returned on Monday to the same point to complete another day’s walking to our Distribution Centre in Stoke Mandeville. I had another fitful night’s sleep then back to the Distribution Centre to walk to Head Office in Hemel Hempstead. After completing fifty-four miles, I arrived at 3:57 in the afternoon to a fabulous crowd clapping and cheering my arrival and promptly burst into tears. It was an incredibly hard three days but the elation I felt when I had actually finished and thought of the huge amount of money raised for a fantastic cause has been amazing.

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I do consider myself to be incredibly lucky with this condition as it is monitored by a great team and my consultant, Mr Neil Kitchen, looks me after brilliantly. It does not affect me on a day-to-day basis and after all these years I have learnt to cope with being deaf on one side. It is only around scan time that I get a bit tetchy. Raising money for The National Brain Appeal to improvethe lives of people in a worse position than me has made the blisters and aching legs all worth it.

My parents, Rod and Sheila, have been completely amazing through all of the tough times since my first operation at the age of eighteen, and Mark coached and accompanied me through my training. They have all been by my side every step of the way.

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