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Thetford and Barrow colleagues at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds get ready to take huge leap for Brain Tumour Research

A mother whose daughter has a terminal brain tumour will join her colleague at West Suffolk Hospital to jump out of a plane for charity.

West Suffolk Hospital employees Barbara Hollands and Charlene Archer will be doing taking the leap next month in aid of Briain Tumour Research.

The pair’s inspiration comes from Barbara’s daughter, Kylie Weatherby, who is living with a terminal brain tumour and has just finished a six-month course of chemotherapy.

Kylie Weatherby with her mum Barbara Hollands. Photo: Brain Tumour Research
Kylie Weatherby with her mum Barbara Hollands. Photo: Brain Tumour Research

Barbara, who works in outpatients and is from Thetford, said: “Honestly, I’m scared senseless as I really don’t like heights. It’s my worst nightmare. I did ask if I could be strapped to the back of the instructor so I get a soft landing if we crash, but they didn’t like that idea.

“I want to make Kylie proud because I’m so proud of her for dealing with everything she has the last couple of years.

“I’d been looking to do a fundraiser, but was thinking more along the lines of the Yorkshire Three Peaks or climbing Snowdon, when Charlene talked me into doing this. I’m hoping we’ll be able to do a challenge on land next year if we survive this.”

Barbara and Charlie. Photo: Brain Tumour Research
Barbara and Charlie. Photo: Brain Tumour Research

The pair will set off from Beccles Airfield on August 19 for a tandem skydive from 10,000ft, wearing Brain Tumour Research t-shirts with a tribute to Kylie on the back.

Charlene, who works in medical records and lives in Barrow, West of Bury St Edmunds, said: “I don’t particularly relish heights and I don’t like flying, but I’ve always wanted to do a skydive because I’m an adrenaline junkie.

“I thought this would be a great way to support Barbara, Kylie and the charity.”

Kylie, from Thetford, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM) – a highly aggressive brain tumour with a devastatingly short prognosis of just 12-18 months – whilst pregnant with twins in May 2021.

She underwent surgery two weeks later, after delivering Luca and Malena by caesarean section at 37 weeks, and went on to have six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Kylie Weatherby with Luca and Malena. Photo: Brain Tumour Research
Kylie Weatherby with Luca and Malena. Photo: Brain Tumour Research

The 34-year-old has had to undergo further chemotherapy for a second brain tumour, a rare grade two pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma (PXA), discovered eight months ago, which she completed last month.

Barbara, 61, said: “The NHS standard of care for Kylie’s type of tumour hasn’t changed for years. Other cancers are making breakthroughs because of the investment that’s been made in research but brain cancer seems to be getting left behind.

“Despite brain tumours being the biggest cancer killer of children and young people under 40, just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to the disease since records began in 2002.

“This can’t be allowed to continue.”

She and Charlene, 51, are hoping to raise at least £2,740, which is enough to sponsor a day of research at one of the charity’s four centres of excellence.

To help boost donations, they will be holding a karaoke fundraiser at The Three Horseshoes in Barrow, west of Bury St Edmunds, from 7pm on August 12. Tickets cost £5 each, payable on the door.

There will also be a cake sale and a raffle. Any businesses willing to donate raffle prizes are asked to email: barbara.hollands@yahoo.co.uk.

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Kylie is a big supporter of ours and it’s been really tough watching everything she’s gone through lately. Now that her chemo’s over, we hope she’s able to enjoy good health and time making memories with her family.

“With one in three of us knowing someone affected by a brain tumour and just 12 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour surviving beyond five years, compared with an average of 54 per cent across all cancers, it’s clear more needs to be done.

“We’re really grateful to Barbara and Charlene for taking on this challenge for us and wish them the best of luck on the day.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, find a cure.

The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.