Tuesday 18th June 2019
North East and Cumbria
Simon was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumour in December 2017. During his treatment, he was supported by Teenage Cancer Trust nurses and Youth Support Coordinators while on our unit at The Freeman. Now Simon's taking on the Great North Run with Team Legend - read his story to see why he's running and why you should too.
"I would very occasionally have these odd episodes where I'd feel very faint, close to passing out, and my vision would go all spotty and grey – sort of like whiting out," said Simon. When Simon's episodes became more frequent in November 2017, he went to see his local doctor, who suspected that Simon might have epilepsy. He was prescribed medication to counteract the effects and booked in for an EEG and an MRI scan.
On 5 December, Simon, along with his parents, visited the doctor to get his MRI results. However, instead of confirming that Simon had epilepsy, the doctor explained that Simon's episodes were being caused by a tumour on the left side of his brain.
I’ll never forget turning to see my mam and dad trying to keep their emotions bottled up, but then exploding after we left. Through the whole year and a half of treatment, I knew I had to stay strong and just get on with it. I needed my family to trust in me and not worry about my mental state or anything more than they already had to.
His seizures continued through Christmas. "On Christmas Day I had about 11, on 27 December I had about 16. Christmas was ruined," Simon explained.
After brain surgery at the Royal Victoria Infirmary on 11 January, Simon had six weeks of radiotherapy at the Freeman, where one our specialist units is located. Here, Simon was supported by our specialist staff. "I was really close with the Teenage Cancer Trust nurses there and they just made everything so easy," said Simon. "They were such a laugh, and they explained what was going on in such simple terms. It really helped knowing that there was a number I could ring 24 hours a day."
You were never alone on the unit, there was always someone you could talk to.
Following radiotherapy, Simon had tablet chemotherapy for 12 months. During his chemo, he returned to the Freeman unit for visits - he was welcomed back by our Youth Support Coordinator at the Freeman and took the opportunity to hang out with other young people with cancer, chatting about their experience, their love of music, and their studies.
Simon took his final round of chemo tablets in April 2019 and has been surprised that everything's returned to normal.
During the chemo I wasn’t really thinking about the future, so when my treatment finished, I sort of broke down – I couldn’t believe it was all finished and I could start thinking about my future again. It was amazing.
It was during his final round of chemo that Simon decided to take part in the Great North Run. I have never done anything like this before, but after this last year and a half, I have such a drive to push on through this," says Simon.
As soon as I get over that finish line in September, I’ll know can still do anything I put my mind to!
Simon has been training hard with the help of a friend - even after a year and a half without exercise, he's managed to run a 6:32 mile! His fundraising - currently more than £900 - will go towards making sure other young people with cancer benefit from the same support he did. You can help too - by signing up for one of our last few Great North Run charity places, you'll be doing something incredible to help teenagers and young adults going through the same experience as Simon.