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Spotlight on supporter group, Kirsty’s Crusaders

Kirsty’s Dad Chris, 75, took on a 50 mile walk over 5 days – to mark what would have been her 50th birthday.

Chris from charity support group Kirsty's Crusaders standing by the sea after walking 50 miles down the coast

“Kirsty was an arms-open-to-everyone kind of girl, possessing the amazing skill at making everyone in her presence feel very special. She is sorely missed but never forgotten.”

Kirsty’s family set up supporter group “Kirsty’s Crusaders” after losing Kirsty to a glioblastoma in October 2020, just a few weeks after she turned 48.  And last autumn, to mark what would have been her 50th birthday, they threw themselves into fundraising to mark the date, hosting a well-attended afternoon tea and quiz at the Yenton Hotel, Bournemouth.  In addition, Kirsty’s Dad Chris took on his own personal challenge – walking 50 miles over 5 days, along the coast from Swanage to Lymington in Dorset, and part way back.

Kirsty’s Story

Mum to sons Lewis and Harrison, recently married to Adrian, her second husband, and step-mum to his three children, life was going well for Kirsty. 

Kirsty was fun, beautiful, loving, loyal, kind, thoughtful, amazing –  a wonderful mother, daughter and sister.  She was an “arms open” woman who made you feel special when you met her.  She was always there for you and would go out of her way to help when needed.

Chris, Kirsty’s dad

The first sign that anything was wrong came suddenly in September 2019, when Kirsty suffered a seizure while driving.   She was taken by Dorset and Somerset air ambulance to Southampton hospital.  For the next three days, numerous tests and scans followed.  Then on September 17th, her family were given unexpected and devastating news.  Chris said:

“In a small room that just fitted Kirsty, Adrian, Val, me, a nurse and a consultant, they showed us the brain scan and announced that Kirsty had an aggressive Glioblastoma 4 brain tumour. The prognosis – without treatment – was 6 months. With an operation to remove the high grade tumour, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, 12 to 18 months. Our world stopped then.”

An operation and a period of radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed. During this time, Kirsty was using a wheelchair because she had damaged her ankle in the accident. But she was able to leave that behind by January, which brought a new regime of chemo treatment.  Kirsty remained very positive and got on with the day to day business of being a mum.  But an MRI scan at the end of this treatment period revealed that the tumour was re-growing.  A further operation was considered too dangerous. And one last course of chemotherapy failed to shrink the tumour, or halt its growth.  Chris said:

“Our last hope had gone.  With an increase in steroids, Kirsty was back in a wheelchair.  On 12th September 2020 – almost exactly a year since the accident – a hospital bed was delivered and Kirsty became virtually bedbound. 

“Kirsty managed to see her 48th birthday on 6th October and was well enough to be aware of the event.  She deteriorated over the last 12 days and passed away with family around her on Sunday 18th October.” 

Taking steps towards a cure: The beginning of supporter group Kirsty’s Crusaders

After Kirsty’s death, her family started her supporter goup to raise funds and awareness of brain tumours.

Seeking his own tough challenge to mark her 50th birthday, Kirsty’s Dad Chris decided on a 5-day sponsored walk.  Friends and relatives joined him for some stretches, but he completed much of it on his own.  He was treated to all kinds of weather conditions along the way – warm sun, strong winds and sharp downpours. But nothing dampened his spirits or his enthusiasm for fundraising.

Chris from supporter group Kirsty's Crusaders standing with walking partner on coastal path during charity walk in support of The Brain Tumour Charity

“The idea of the walk was to celebrate Kirsty’s 50th birthday.  One mile for each year.  It needed to be something challenging to be able to ask people for sponsorship. 

“I’ve always enjoyed walking so I thought that’s the obvious thing to do. Originally I planned to do the walk over seven days, but each day during the build up to it I was walking six to seven miles, so if I could do that I could do ten miles a day.  So that became the challenge.  Once that was set in my mind then there was no way I was going to fail.  There was the odd time I thought why am I doing this – but immediately I thought of Kirsty and I knew why.

“I was used to walking on my own so although it was great to have company and it certainly helped, it didn’t worry me when I was solo. I’d put my headphones in and listen to music.

“The motivation behind the walk and all the fund raising is to make awareness of the Charity and the tremendous research work it carries out and to raise money to help this research to take place.” – Chris

Fundraising to mark Kirsty’s birthday – which also included a raffle, and donations from others pledging their birthdays – totalled £4790.00 overall.  A completely brilliant effort!

The Kirsty’s Crusaders Supporter Group Fund total now stands at a fantastic £14,754.62

How you can help this supporter group

Would you like to donate to Kirsty’s Crusaders or read more about it? Find out more about the supporter group Kirsty’s Crusaders here.