Fraserburgh mum steps up for Brain Tumour Charity's Twilight Walk

Fraserburgh mum-of-two Arlene Lawrence – who was diagnosed with a brain tumour after a trip of a lifetime in Las Vegas and its recurrence when she was pregnant – is putting her best foot forward to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 8:25 am
Arlene Lawrence and her husband Iain, with daughters Aspen and Talia.

Arlene (30) was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011 when she was 19-years-old. She started having severe symptoms almost as soon as she stepped off the plane after a trip to Las Vegas with her boyfriend, Iain, who she married in May 2015.

She had excruciating headaches, pins and needles down her left hand side and sickness which would leave her floored.

She’d actually experienced symptoms of her brain tumour from the age of just 13, when her vision suddenly went blurry. Despite many trips to the optician and at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, it was never picked up.

Having received help and advice from The Brain Tumour Charity, Arlene is now taking on the organisation’s flagship fundraising challenge for the second time, The Twilight Walk. She is supporting the charity to find a cure for the disease, which is the number one cancer killer amongst children and adults under 40.

Arlene said: “None of us had really heard about brain tumours before my diagnosis so my mum did lots of research on the charity’s website so she knew everything we would need to know.

“Outside of my close family and friends, I haven’t told many people about my recurrence but I know how important it is to raise awareness that brain tumours can happen to anyone of any age. So, by taking part in The Twilight Walk again, I hope to raise as much as I can for an incredible charity so they can continue to help people like me.”

Ahead of her diagnosis, on one visit to the GP, Arlene got up to leave and fell to the floor as she had her first seizure. She was booked in for an appointment at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary the following day where she had an MRI scan. This scan found that Arlene had a large eight centimetre tumour on her right frontal lobe. In fact, it was so large that it was pushing her brain to the other side of her head.

Arlene and Iain on their wedding day in May 2015.

Arlene said: “I did know that something was very wrong, especially when my symptoms got so severe. I used to have nightmares where I had to tell my loved ones that I was dying. But, then I took some level of comfort in how I thought that there couldn’t be anything wrong with me after so many years of appointments and GP visits.

“At the hospital, the doctor took me and my mum into a private room to give us the results of the scan. The doctor told us that if the tumour had been left undiagnosed for a few more weeks, then I would be dead. I was blown away.”

Arlene had surgery a week later to successfully remove 99 per cent of the tumour which was then confirmed to be a Grade 2 meningioma so she didn’t need any further treatment.

In the years which followed, Arlene got a job as a support worker, married Iain and fell pregnant with their first child, Aspen, who was born in November 2017. It was during her pregnancy that Arlene was discussing her medical history with a midwife when they realised that she hadn’t had a scan for six years, so it was very overdue. The scan was arranged for April 2018 after Arlene had given birth and, as it was treated as non-urgent, she returned to the hospital in July for the results – when she was given the shocking news that the tumour had grown back.

Arlene on her wedding day in May 2015, four years after her tumour was first diagnosed.

Arlene said: “I couldn’t believe the blob on the consultant’s computer screen was my tumour. I had naively not prepared myself for results like that at all. At that moment, my whole world turned upside down. I went from being a new mum and sitting up on Cloud Nine to the thought that I may not see my baby grow up.”

Arlene’s tumour was in the same location as before and it is currently around 6mm in size. She is now on a ‘watch and wait’ treatment programme and she now has annual scans to monitor for any changes to her condition which could mean more treatment in the future.

Arlene and Iain became parents for the second time when daughter, Talia, was born in March 2020. In addition, Arlene has been fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity by taking part in the charity’s flagship event The Twilight Walk twice, including one of large-scale walks in Edinburgh run by the charity with her sister, and raising £1,000 for the organisation so far.

Arlene’s mum told her about The Brain Tumour Charity when she came out of hospital after her surgery so she visited its website and social media channels. She ordered an information pack and also joined the closed Facebook groups the charity runs to provide support to people affected by a brain tumour diagnosis.

Arlene's medal from a previous Twilight Walk for the Brain Tumour Charity.

She added: “Living with a brain tumour has got easier over time but there is always the dreaded feeling that one day I will need more treatment.

"Because of my girls, I will put my all into fighting this brain tumour as I do have a lot to fight for.”

You can support Arlene’s fundraising at www.thetwilightwalk.com/fundraising/arlenes-fundraiding-page.