Tracy Andrew-Williams, 52, from Altrincham, will be putting her best foot forward for the Manchester 10K on Sunday 22 May. She will be alongside her husband Scott, her daughters Daniella & Ashleigh, Ashleigh’s fiancé Jack, her cousin Jane and two work colleagues, Jess & Rachael.
The group will be raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity following Tracy’s diagnosis with a low-grade meningioma brain tumour in January. Tracy has a history of eye problems and was under the outpatient care of Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. She was referred for an MRI by the eye hospital in October which was followed by a second MRI with contrast in November ahead of Tracy’s diagnosis in January.
Prior to the pandemic, she was seen every 4-6 months but this was delayed during the pandemic. She did start having problems with her vision which she thought was due to a cataract which had previously been diagnosed in her left eye. By June 2021, Tracy also began experiencing other symptoms including visual disturbances, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, nausea and vertigo. These are all classic symptoms of a brain tumour.
Tracy said: “I was starting to struggle at work – my job is office-based so I spend a long time looking at screens. I thought it was eye strain to start with but then things got worse. I was in complete shock when I was diagnosed. The MRI was to check whether it was my glaucoma was affecting my vision but I had never imagined that I would have a brain tumour.”
The location of Tracy’s tumour means that it is inoperable due to concerns of what damage surgery could cause. So, Tracy is now undergoing a course of 30 sessions of radiotherapy over the next six weeks at The Christie Hospital in Salford. She has been assigned a Clinical Nurse Specialist to help and support her throughout the process. The fun run will be a couple of weeks after Tracy’s treatment is due to finish.
Tracy said: “I have every faith in my care team but I can’t help but think that something may go wrong. I have done lots of research so I think my expectations of how it will be are realistic but I do really wish that I had the option of surgery – I think that would have less concerns about how effective the treatment will be if so.
“I feel like I have lost some of my independence especially as I can’t drive at the moment. I am trying to just carry on each day as I was before my diagnosis and hopefully this will all be short-term. My friends and family have been so supportive – this sort of unexpected diagnosis really does make you appreciate life a lot more.
Tracy and her daughters found out about The Brain Tumour Charity when they searched online for information after her diagnosis. Tracy has since downloaded the Charity’s app, BRIAN, which allows people to record their brain tumour experience in one place including symptoms, treatments, side effects and appointments. The data can also be shared with those you trust, including healthcare teams, to provide a strong understanding of individual circumstances. Tracy has also joined the Charity’s closed Facebook support group for people who are affected by the disease.
Tracy said: “I didn’t know much about brain tumours ahead of my diagnosis – I was probably one of those people who thought that there wasn’t much hope if you had one. Now I know that there’s lots of different types of tumours which can be treated.
“The Brain Tumour Charity and its support services have been a great source of support and advice – there’s a real sense of community where people can freely discuss how they are feeling. The website has been so useful to me and my family, especially my children, to gain further knowledge on what this diagnosis means.
“That’s why we will be wearing our charity t-shirts with pride for the fun run. My daughters decided that they wanted to take part – I didn’t think that I would be fit enough but then I decided I couldn’t let them do it without me. So, I will do my best to run or walk to the finish line if I have to.
“Although I have done the run before, I am trying not to worry about my fitness – or lack of it – after the treatment. There’s so many different ages and abilities which take part, it’s a great day out and the atmosphere keeps you going.
“I will be spurred on by knowing I am doing it for a Charity which is close to my heart – The Brain Tumour Charity was an obvious choice this year as they have already been such a great help. My daughters suggested it and I didn’t hesitate to agree.”
Visit here to donate to Tracy’s fundraising.