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West Suffolk Hospital nursing assistant from Thetford to take on Brain Tumour Research 10,000 steps challenge inspired by daughter's terminal diagnosis while pregnant with twins



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A West Suffolk Hospital nursing assistant is preparing for a charity challenge inspired by her daughter who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer while pregnant with twins.

Barbara Hollands, of Thetford, will take on the Brain Tumour Research charity's 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge for her youngest daughter Kylie Weatherby.

Kylie was pregnant with twins when she was told she had a brain tumour but, despite a terminal diagnosis, she is now showing no evidence of the disease.

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

She was 36 weeks pregnant when, in May last year, she woke up feeling unwell and rushed to the bathroom where she collapsed on the floor having a seizure.

The then 32-year-old thought she may have had pre-eclampsia, a condition her mum had suffered from during two of her pregnancies, but a scan revealed that she had a brain tumour.

Her doctors allowed Kylie to continue with her pregnancy until May 28 when she delivered her babies, Luca and Malena, at 37 weeks by caesarean.

Kylie Weatherby with her twin babies Luca and Malena. Picture: Brain Tumour Research
Kylie Weatherby with her twin babies Luca and Malena. Picture: Brain Tumour Research

Ten days later she was taken to hospital by ambulance after complaining of severe head pain and rushed into surgery after her brain became so swollen that it was squashing the tumour and causing it to bleed.

Severe swelling meant it was not immediately possible to rebuild her skull so Kylie was sent home wearing a helmet to protect her exposed brain until the operation could be completed on July 1 last year.

It was the day before that final surgery that Kylie found out she had a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive and fast-growing form of brain cancer.

Kylie, who moved to Birmingham, Alabama, in 2012 after marrying an American serviceman she met while working as a housekeeper at RAF Lakenheath, went on to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy and on October 18 was told her cancer cells were no longer detectable and she showed no evidence of disease.

Barbara Hollands with her French bulldog Ryka. Picture: Brain Tumour Research
Barbara Hollands with her French bulldog Ryka. Picture: Brain Tumour Research

The 33-year-old is being monitored with three-monthly scans and planning to move back to the UK to be closer to family.

Her mum Barbara said: “They were honest and straight with her and said they didn’t know how long she had but they did get everything out that they could see, but obviously these tumours have tentacles you can’t see which is the worry.

“Quite honestly, you wouldn’t look at her and think she’s as poorly as she is, except when she gets tired but she’s got seven-month-old twins. She’s had no seizures since her operation and has got such positivity.

“I don’t know where she gets her strength from because I’m a wreck but I’m looking forward to her coming home permanently. I wish it could be sooner but in four months’ time they should be here and I think Nanny’s going to be a bit emotional.”

The 59-year-old mum-of-three suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition that causes difficulty breathing, but was encouraged to ‘go for it’ when she told Kylie about the challenge and is determined to complete it.

She will be adding to her step count with the help of her French Bulldog, Ryka, who already enjoys several walks a day, and keeping track of it using the phone app Strava and her Apple watch.

She said: “This is the first fund-raiser I’ve ever taken part in but I think I’ll be able to do it. The most important thing is to raise money for research because it’s only with continuous research that things will improve and it might only take something small to help those affected live that extra few years.

“I’m hoping I’m not going to lose Kylie but I also have to face the possibility I might have two babies to bring up at some point but by doing this challenge I could help fund a breakthrough that could stop this disease from taking her away from me.”

Brain Tumour Research’s 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge is back after a successful debut a year ago which raised nearly £1 million to support research and campaigning.

The charity is calling for people to step up to the Facebook challenge and make it even bigger and better this year.

Participants will receive a free emoji t-shirt and fund-raising pack when they receive their first donation and a special medal if they raise £274 or more.

Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We’re really pleased to hear about Kylie’s latest results and welcome the support of her mum, Barbara, in helping us to raise the funds needed to research better treatment options and outcomes for brain tumour patients and, ultimately, find a cure.

“The statistics speak for themselves; brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. We’re working to change that.”

To support Barbara’s fund-raising click here or to join the Facebook challenge group click here.