Surfleet woman hoping to start local support group for brain tumour patients

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Transport was just one of the challenges facing Joanna Hillier after cancer.

Her driving licence had been revoked but the six-week course of radiotherapy following removal of her brain tumour was at Lincoln.

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Luckily for Joanna, of Surfleet, some of her book-keeping clients stepped in to help – including Debbie and Paul Greenaway, Denise Andrews, Derek Sly, as well as neighbours and friends.

Later, what she needed was someone to talk to who had been through the same experience, and she found that in Lincolnshire Brain Tumour Support Group.

However, meetings tend to be held at Lincoln or Sleaford, and Joanna is aware that distance is an obstacle for some who need the support.

Now, with the backing of John Hayes MP, who is patron of the group and who has offered to come and talk next year if a meeting can be arranged in his constituency, Joanna is asking former brain tumour patients locally to get in touch to form a group.

It was in 2011, that Joanna was urged by new husband Graham and her sister to get a small bump on her right temple checked as it appeared to have changed.

The mum to two and step mum to two had X-rays, and MRI and CT scans and eventually got a phone call telling her she had a meningioma.

She was referred to the QMC where a tumour the size of a small orange was removed during a nine-hour operation. Part of her skull was removed too, and so Joanna has two titanium rods in her head.

She was swiftly home again to recuperate, and then underwent the radiotherapy that caused hair loss at the sites of the treatment.

She is fully recovered, but will have annual scans for ten years.

Joanna says: “I felt I needed to talk to people who had been through it, that it wasn’t the end. I wasn’t going to let it be the end, but I needed to know there was life after it.

“A lot of people when they hear ‘brain tumour’ think, ‘She’s going to die’, and ten years ago I’d have thought the same. But we do survive and go on and have full and happy lives.”

Visit lbtsg.co.uk or phone 07757 102418 to express interest in a local group – or even just for a chat.