29 Aug 2014

Acoustic neuroma survivor hits the ground running

Mark Leadbeater 

Mark Leadbeater is on a mission to raise £2,000 by lacing up his running shoes and entering as many races as possible.

What is particularly inspiring about Mark’s story is that he recently battled a type of brain tumour called an acoustic neuroma and spent 32 days in hospital recovering.

Mark’s battle

In September 2013 a MRI scan revealed a small lesion on his brain. He was told it was nothing to worry about but a referral appointment three months later revealed that it was a 35mm - 40mm acoustic neuroma.

An acoustic neuroma is a benign non-cancerous growth, or tumour, in the brain. The tumour grows on the acoustic nerve, which helps control hearing and balance.

In the new year Mark underwent an 18-hour operation to remove 90-95 per cent of the tumour. However, he was back in theatre again in early February due to a cerebrospinal fluid leak. This happens when protective fluid held in and around the human brain and spinal cord leaks out of the surrounding sac.

The road to recovery

His long road to recovery began with 32 days in hospital – during which he had to slowly build up his fitness again. His positive spirit and resolve played a great part in his rehabilitation.

Mark credits his recovery to “the professionalism and dedication of all of the staff at Leeds General Infirmary who worked in the intensive care and high dependency units and the ward I was in.”

Determined to raise awareness of acoustic neuromas and ‘give something back’ he decided to rehabilitate himself through running for BANA – the British Acoustic Neuroma Association.

Supporting patients with acoustic neuroma

BANA is the UK’s only national charity supporting people affected by acoustic neuromas. The relative rarity of this form of brain tumour, which isn’t cancerous, means that patients are spread far and wide with little chance of knowing of anyone else with the condition. Isolation, fear and anxiety are not uncommon.

Since 1992, BANA has worked to link patients and family members together, for listening, peer-to-peer advice giving and sharing of mutual experiences via a number of virtual and local support mediums. They also offer reliable information on the condition and management options, in conjunction with advisors from the medical profession.

Acoustic neuromas are life-changing regardless of the extent of their ongoing symptoms and effects, including single-sided deafness, tinnitus, balance and cognitive impairments, facial weakness and palsy, depression and fatigue.

Debra Nash, chief executive for BANA, says: “Mark is more than a fundraising champion for BANA, he is a source of positive inspiration for fellow sufferers.”

A positive attitude

Mark says: “People have been very generous – it’s very humbling. I just want to help others going through this.”

He adds: "A big thank you to my wife Yvette who works as a support worker with brain injury patients. She has been by my side throughout and aided my speedy recovery. I could not have done it without her amazing dedication.”

Mark believes his running has helped to speed up his recovery. He adds a note of appreciation for Sweatshop in Castleford – a national retail specialist in running gear, and his running colleagues who have helped and motivated him along the way.

Mark says: “BANA recommended MyDonate – it’s really good – and easy to use!”

Donate to Mark’s mission

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