AN EDINBURGH couple have pledged to raise awareness of brain tumours and funds for research after their lives were turned upside down by the disease.
Matthew Smith from Fauldhouse, West Lothian, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour at the age of just 28 after experiencing weeks of headaches and vision problems that doctors had put down to migraines.
The tumour was finally discovered in 2016 after Matthew’s worsening symptoms prompted his wife Hayley to call NHS 24, where staff told her he needed immediate medical attention.
Tests revealed a glioblastoma – an aggressive tumour which doctors believe may have developed over 15 years.
Matthew underwent surgery followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy to treat the tumour and is currently doing well, although there is no cure for glioblastoma.
The couple are now preparing for “Paws for the Cause”, a dog show fundraiser partly in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity, on Sunday, June 17.
“Matthew’s symptoms worsened and one weekend I came home from seeing my friends and he had been violently sick all day. He also had a large rash on his neck and he seemed confused,” Hayley said.
The following day, when Matthew was unable to drive to work and was having problems communicating, Hayley called NHS 24.
An MRI scan showed that the tumour was a quarter of the size of Matthew’s brain.
Matthew said: “I was having horrendous migraines and problems with my vision for about six weeks.
“The GP originally thought they were just bad migraines.
“Being told that I have a terminal brain tumour is the most horrible and upsetting news I’ve ever experienced and thinking about the impact it would have on my family made it even harder.”
Hayley is now a community ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity, which she says has helped her to channel her energy into something positive.
“I am really lucky to have Matthew with me and I think if NHS 24 hadn’t called an ambulance that day we would have been too late.
“I know others with brain tumours have not been as fortunate and we are definitely keen to help raise awareness for brain tumour symptoms.
“I am very excited about the dog festival, as is Link, our sausage dog! It is going to be a fun day out for dogs, with ‘pawsecco’ and dog beer, ‘pawdicures’, a pet photographer, training advice and free doggy MOTs!”
The Paws for the Cause fundraiser, at the Biscuit Factory in Leith, is being sponsored by Vets4Pets, for tickets visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/paws-for-the-cause-tickets-44668234893.
Proceeds from the day will go to The Brain Tumour Charity and the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.