Edinburgh woman takes on Kiltwalk challenge in memory of childhood friend who died from brain tumour

A dental nurse from Edinburgh is taking part in a 42km Kiltwalk in memory of a high school friend who died from a brain tumour, aged just 20.

Lauryn Halliday, 22, is taking part in the Dundee Kiltwalk on 21 August with her partner, Cameron Buckley, 23, to raise money for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Lauryn’s friend, Jamie Bingham, died from complications following the removal of a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma brain tumour in September 2019.

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Jamie's family first realised something was wrong in May 2012, when Jamie was 12 years old, as he started to feel sick every morning.

Lauryn Halliday and Cameron Buckley; right, Jamie Bingham (pictured left) with his family. All images copyright Brain Tumour Research All images copyright Brain Tumour Research

Lauryn said: “He’d been suffering from months of morning nausea. We used to walk to Broughton High School together, and he was throwing up every morning. He had also started closing one eye when he watched TV.

“Jamie’s parents, Heather and Ian, took him to the GP, but he dismissed their concerns saying that Jamie was fine.

“They persisted and eventually persuaded the GP to refer Jamie to the gastroenterology department at The Royal Hospital for Children and Young people in Edinburgh.”

The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with Jamie’s gut, so they arranged for an endoscopy and, after more pleading from Jamie’s parents, an MRI scan of his head.

The scan on January 30 2013, when Jamie was 13 years old, devastatingly revealed a large tumour at the back of his brain.

One week later, surgeons at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh removed 98% of the tumour which was growing from his brainstem.

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Jamie’s parents and brother, Charlie, who was only 11 at the time, were told that the tumour was low-grade, and he would not require any further treatment.

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Jamie’s mum, Heather, said: “Jamie developed posterior fossa syndrome (PFS) a couple of days after surgery which caused him to have issues with his speech, vision, coordination and balance. This condition affects 25% of people who have surgery to this part of the brain.

“He was making progress with this each day, and we were told things would settle in time.

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Nine days after his operation, we got the wonderful news that the tumour was low-grade and that same day Jamie’s stitches were removed from the back of his head. But later that evening, his temperature skyrocketed.

“Over the next couple of days, he started to become very unwell with headaches, vomiting and an extremely high temperature.

“An MRI scan confirmed Jamie had contracted meningitis. We were absolutely devastated. After getting through so much with such a positive outcome, for this to happen was utterly horrendous.”

Lauryn said: “The meningitis caused many problems including hydrocephalus, so he had to have a shunt inserted to drain the excess fluid. His body was in a vulnerable state anyway, but this just knocked him for six.

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“Jamie went downhill rapidly; he became really weak and couldn’t support his own muscles. He also needed to use a ventilator via a tracheostomy to help him breathe. He was in and out of hospital so many times, it was really sad to see.”

Jamie had 14 brain operations within 12 months due to complications with his shunts and the meningitis.

He left hospital 18 months after his first operation and needed to use a wheelchair. He eventually came off the ventilator and his condition improved, enabling him to return to school to sit his exams.

Heather said: “Jamie managed to obtain four National 5s, all at grades A and B. This was a fantastic achievement as he had missed more than two years of school and been through so much.”

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Lauryn said: “He started going out more with his friends and his speech got better. You could see his confidence returning as he became more like himself again, cracking jokes. The old Jamie was back, and it was so lovely to see.”

In summer 2016, Jamie started having problems with his shunts and he needed to have several operations which again affected his vision, hearing, swallow, coordination and balance, along with many other issues.

This continued until May 2019 when a recent shunt revision operation resulted in a large abscess forming in his abdomen which led to him developing sepsis and meningitis again.

Jamie tragically died in hospital with his loving family by his side on September 20, 2019.

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Now, Lauryn and Cameron will take on the 42km Dundee Kiltwalk on August 21 to raise money for Brain Tumour Research.

She said: “It was so hard to see how much Jamie deteriorated, but his family has been incredible. They don’t want to dwell on the sadness because they know Jamie wouldn’t have liked that.

“There is so little funding into brain tumours. No other family should have to go through this, so the more money that’s raised, the better, to help fund research. I want to do Jamie’s family proud. I couldn’t imagine doing it for anyone better.”

To donate to Lauryn’s fundraising page, visit:

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