An Island firefighter is helping to raise awareness of The Brain Tumour Charity following his recent life-changing diagnoses and treatment of a rare form of cancer – and is planning to raise plenty of cash along the way.
Mark Grimes, a firefighter for the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service at Ryde Fire Station, had only welcomed his baby son into the world 9 months previously when he was delivered news he couldn’t have ever imagined – he had cancer at just 34-years-old.
In February of this year Mark and his family spent his birthday in hospital waiting for a CT scan after 6 months of what can only be described as ‘funny turns’. For weeks the family had assumed the problem would turn out to be an inner ear problem, but in reality things were a lot more serious.
Following an MRI scan and multiple appointments at the Wessex Neurological Centre, Mark was finally given a diagnosis and prognosis – the MRI had confirmed what was believed to be a low grade Oligodendroglioma, one of the rarer tumours, approximately 5x5cm in size and that had probably been growing for many years.
As the Grimes’ world fell apart, they were told in no uncertain terms that whilst the tumour could be surgically removed, this was not a cure and that over time it would be likely to recur. Mark and his family were also told that because of the tumours location, the 4 hour craniotomy would need to be performed while Mark was awake so they could test his speech and motor skills throughout the procedure, as to do it under general anesthetic would be too dangerous.
Faced with an uncertain future, they turned to the internet to research more information about the cancer, the surgery and the statistics behind it. To their shock, although 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour and more children and adults under 40 die of a brain tumour than from any other form of cancer, brain tumours only receive 1-2% of the national spend on cancer research.
Mark’s tumour is not curable, but is controllable. Given his age it is likely he will need to be treated again in the future with either further surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. But for Mark and his family they say they can’t sit worrying about what might happen or what could have happened and that it is their intention to live life to the full. As a result, for the remainder of this year, it is the Grimes’ aim to give something back…
One of a series of fundraising events is The Great South Run on Sunday 25th October. Mark and his wife Kathryn have agreed to run together to help raise funds and awareness for the debilitating disease, that they say has changed their lives forever.
A charity car wash is due to be held at Ryde Fire Station on 20th June and a pub quiz on 19th September. Keep an eye out for details.
Mark is no stranger to fundraising having previously taken part in Blue Light Fight Night and Ryde For Life in 2013.
It’s three weeks since Mark had his operation and although he is not yet back to his old self, he is doing a little more each day and is keen to return to full fitness and ‘normal life’. He is also hoping to return to work in the Summer to continue protecting and rescuing Islanders.
Anyone wishing to support Mark can do so on JustGiving at https://www.justgiving.com/Kathryn-Grimes/.
Any donations made will be split between The Brain Tumour Charity and The Firefighters Charity, who have helped Mark with travel costs.