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Young Ambassador Mel becomes Cheshire Woman of the Year

Meet Mel, who’s become passionate about raising funds and awareness since her brain tumour diagnosis 18 months ago.

The past 18 months have been a whirlwind of challenges and triumphs. Battling a brain tumour is a daunting and life-altering experience, but it also brings clarity and purpose to my life. Through the darkest times, the support of my family, friends, and medical team have became my beacon of hope.

Mel Kelly


Cheshire Woman of the Year 2024

Mel Kelly, 23, one of our new Young Ambassadors at the Charity, has been made Cheshire Woman of the Year 2024 at an award ceremony on Wednesday 5th June at Chester Racecourse.  

The award celebrates women of Cheshire and The Wirral who go over and above in their professional careers, show courage by overcoming or encountering challenges, and women who are selflessly committed to supporting their local community. Mel was given the award in recognition of the work she has done to raise funds and awareness of brain tumours – all in the short 18 months since her diagnosis.

Mel, from New Ferry, has been described as “a young visionary whose life and work for the community show her unwavering courage and compassion.”

Among other things, she’s completed a Twilight Walk for us, and also abseiled down the Anglican Cathedral to raise funds; shared her story for our BBC Lifeline Appeal; and supported our campaign for a National Brain Tumour Strategy. As well as for The Brain Tumour Charity, she has also raised funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust and Move Against Cancer.  

Pilocytic astrocytoma diagnosis

Dealing with a brain tumour  – in Mel’s case, a pilocytic astrocytoma – was a lot to cope with, especially because, for Mel, it came without much warning.  Her symptoms were attributed to several other conditions before the true cause was revealed.   

Those symptoms began in September 2022 when Mel started getting daily headaches, which arrived “almost out of the blue.” Her optician thought they might be migraines, but suggested she visit her GP who diagnosed a sinus infection, prescribing Sudafed and antibiotics, but things did not improve.   

Mel said: “Several days into taking the antibiotics, I was back at the doctors, as now I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow and was drowsy and shaking. I was told, “It’s nothing neurological, don’t worry.”  

More tests, questions and examinations followed. By the beginning of December, Mel was now vomiting, starting to lose her vision, and experiencing blackouts. Reassured it was nothing serious, Mel went on holiday assuming she must have been overdoing things.   

She said:“I didn’t worry about anything, as I thought it would pass, and I was potentially experiencing a burnout!” 
 When she returned from holiday, everything changed.  On 19th December, Mel was contacted by medics following up on an e-consult she had filled in two weeks previously.  She was given an appointment at her local ophthalmologist within the hour, where she was told things “had been left too long” – and that she had to go for an immediate scan. Mel discovered her diagnosis just a few hours later.  

“At first it was utter shock. I knew I wasn’t well, but to hear those words “you have a brain tumour” nothing comes close to describing that moment.”  

Mel, who has recently been named Cheshire Woman of the Year, in hospital after surgery

Mel in hospital

Road to Recovery

Mel, who has recently been named Cheshire Woman of the Year, attending the Young Adults Ball last year.

Mel attended our Young Adults Masquerade Ball with her mum last summer

After a difficult period, Mel is back on her feet and grateful for the support she’s received. Family and friends have been fantastic – but Mel found she needed to speak to others her own age who fully understand what she is going through. Joining the Young Adults Facebook Group, and attending online meet ups, has proved invaluable.   

Mel said: “I didn’t know anyone else who had been through this at my age – but the support from the Young Adults Service has been incredible.  From the online meet ups, to messages in the groups, nothing has ever been too much of an ask for the staff and they always go above and beyond.  

“When I joined my first online meet up, I was feeling quite low, to be honest with you.  I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  

“A brain tumour diagnosis is scary and isolating.  But talking to the other young people makes you realise you’re not alone! At a scary time in your life, it’s humbling to know there’s others there who are experiencing the same thing.”  

What I’m looking forward to as a Young Ambassador

Ever since her diagnosis, Mel has been determined to raise awareness about brain tumour symptoms and get involved with the charities working to fight them. And she can’t wait to get stuck into her new role as a Young Ambassador.

 “I am blown away at the support from family and friends and everyone who nominated me for such a prestigious award, but I do have to say, this award isn’t for me – it’s for the brain tumour community.

“What I am looking forward to most as a Young Ambassador for the Charity is making a positive impact. Helping others when they need it most. When I was diagnosed I didn’t know where to turn, so if I can spread awareness of brain tumours and the charity, people may then be inclined to reach out and ask for help when they need it most.

“As I move forward, I am more determined than ever to advocate for brain tumour awareness and research. This award fuels my passion and commitment to making a difference. Together, we can bring hope and healing to countless lives affected by this disease.”