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Sheffield scientists take on Sheffield 10K to raise money

Researchers from the University of Sheffield ran the Sheffield 10K on 24th September to raise money for us, a charity close to their hearts.

As a charity, we are close to their hearts for two reasons. Firstly, runner Morgan Rycroft has been personally affected by her mum’s brain tumour diagnosis. And secondly, her friend and fellow runner, Nikky works in a laboratory at the University of Sheffield that receives funding from The Charity. 

Research into brain tumours is incredibly important as there are still huge gaps in our knowledge when it comes to understanding how these tumours develop and the best ways to tackle them in a way that causes the least amount of damage to health brain tissue. I know that raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity will fund vital research – research that my friends are doing.”

Morgan Rycroft

Sorrall’s story

Morgan’s mum, Sorrall Dovey, was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was 43 and Morgan was just 14.

Sorrall’s tumour, a meningioma, was situated behind her left eye. Doctors told her that her tumour was the size of a lemon and had likely been growing for more than 20 years.

Sorrall had surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible but spent Christmas 2012 in hospital. The tumour returned four years later in 2016, again impacting the family’s Christmas.

Morgan said: “It was a devastating blow. We knew there was a high possibility of it returning, but we didn’t think it would happen so quickly. Mum bravely had treatment in 2017, and there have been no signs of growth since. She has now surpassed the four-year prognosis we were given post-treatment and defied all odds! She’s an inspiration to me.”

Morgan, who is now a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, with her parents at her undergraduate graduation in 2021

It started with terrible migraines

There were a number of symptoms that led to Sorrall’s diagnosis, her daughter Morgan explains: “Mum had terrible migraines that would leave her bedridden for days. She also experienced numbness in her right eye and hand, and pain in her neck. The symptoms progressed to memory problems. She began calling me ‘Frances’ – the name of her sister. She would also mix up words for common objects and forget other words entirely.”

These symptoms made Sorrall’s job as an anaesthetic nurse incredibly difficult. She also experienced what she described as: “an awful numbing headache where I couldn’t move, see or breathe” twice in theatre. Following her brain tumour recurrence and treatment with radio- and chemotherapy, Sorrall retired.

Despite recovering well, Sorrall has persistent memory problems and often cannot remember the words for objects. Morgan explains: “Her brain tumour diagnosis has had a huge impact on her confidence. She struggles to use technology like mobile phones, and this can cause her a great deal of stress and panic, but my brother and I are usually on hand to help her with this type of problem.”

Sorrall now spends her days gardening and tending to her flowers – she is a keen gardener and loves to grow every kind of fruit and vegetable. Morgan said: “Some of my fondest memories are of picking berries to put in sloe gin.”

Research at Sheffield

Morgan, Nikky and Kathryn are researchers at the University of Sheffield.

The Collis Laboratory where Nikky works receives funding from The Brain Tumour Charity. Nikky’s research focuses on improving treatment for glioblastoma by targeting DNA damage and repair pathways. She works alongside The Brain Tumour Charity’s Future Leader, Ola Rominiyi.

The three friends met during their research careers and have trained together for the Sheffield 10K. This was Morgan and Kathryn’s first running event – Nikky, a seasoned runner, helped them train.

They also raised money hosting a Big Bake at their university!

As researchers, they understand the importance of funding research to find better treatments.

There is a lot more research needed – especially surrounding what causes brain tumours. When people have head problems they should be scanned sooner, so they don’t have such a big operation initially, like I did. I am very proud of Morgan for running this 10km and raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity.”

Sorrall Dovey

Find out more about the research funded at the University of Sheffield

Dr. Ola Rominiyi

Based in the UK at the University of Sheffield, Dr. Rominiyi is researching DNA repair in glioblastoma on a cellular level to identify treatment weaknesses. His work aims to create new treatment strategies with DNA repair inhibitor drugs that are more effective and have fewer side effects.