A brain tumour patient who used cold water swimming as therapy after her diagnosis is taking on a wild swim to fundraise for Brain Tumour Research.
Heather Turner, 50 of Brixham in Devon will be swapping her swimming cap for a hat adorned in flowers as part of the charity’s Wear A Hat Day with Flowers event on 17 June, where the day will begin with a hat decorating workshop at the Makers Space at Yes!Brixham.
Diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma in 1996 when she was 24, Heather will be braving temperatures of 55F/12C at Breakwater Beach in Brixham as she and a shoal of other swimmers including the Midwifery Mermaids and friend, Benjamin Mee, take on the fundraising challenge this Friday.
Complications during brain surgery caused nerve damage leading to life-long changes for Heather, including facial palsy and the loss of sight in one eye, already adding to partial hearing loss caused by the tumour itself.
Heather attributes her positive outlook on her life-long changes to open water swimming, something which she got into five years ago.
Heather said: “It’s something I never thought I would be able to do but I took the leap and tried swimming in the sea when it was at its coldest and I did it, proving myself wrong and feeling like I accomplished something.
“For me, wild swimming felt like I was overcoming something. Being in deep water scared me but I have managed to fight that fear and it’s also helped me deal with the side effects of living with a brain tumour – when I am in the water, I don’t have to think about balance and I feel freer.”
Heather has raised more than £2,740 for Brain Tumour Research which has funded the equivalent of a day of research at the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth. Heather placed a tile for her fundraising efforts on the centre’s Wall of Hope in April.
Heather added: “Swimming is something I have always loved. Even after encountering jellyfish and being bitten by seals I still make it out in the water every day and it’s truly been a therapy for me.”
To join Heather’s Wear A Hat Day with Flowers swim, please visit the Facebook event for more information https://fb.me/e/2ylVXNds3
Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re grateful to Heather for continuing to support the charity, inspiring others by sharing her story. We have loved working with her creative and inspiration fundraising ways and wish her well with the event.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
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