‘I want to raise as much as I can and I hope grandad would be proud’

A young mum from Limavady is raising money for Brain Tumour Research, after losing her grandfather to the disease a year ago.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 9:51 am

Mum-of-one Christina Steele, 20, is taking on the Jog 26 Miles in May challenge to raise vital funds for the charity.

It’s after her grandad William McDonald died from a brain tumour in May 2020, just one day after receiving his devastating diagnosis. William was 78.

Christina, who is mum to four-year-old Maizie, said: “In April 2020, Grandad went to Altnagelvin Hospital, complaining of severe headaches. We’d also noticed he was becoming a bit forgetful but otherwise he was fit and well.”

Medics initially believed that William’s symptoms were age related.

His headaches continued for several weeks and on May 21, 2020, he fell, splitting his eyebrow.

“He was taken into hospital and they did a scan, which revealed an intracerebral brain tumour,” Christina said. “The next morning, we got a phone call to say he was declining quickly.”

Due to the strict government guidelines on hospital visits during the COVID-19 lockdown, only William’s closest relatives were able to join him at his bedside in his final hours.

William died surrounded by four of his six children, less than 24 hours after his diagnosis.

“My mum Jeanette and her siblings Ann, William and Kenny were able to be there to say their final goodbyes. My two uncles Jimmy and Trevor live in England and there just wasn’t enough time for them to get back. It was heart-breaking and such a shock to the whole family,” Christina said.

“My grandmother, Eileen is 84 and is in a residential care home. She has lung cancer, which has spread to her brain and the disease has massively affected her cognitive ability. She no longer recognises her family members and is unaware that her beloved husband has passed away.”

William had eight grandchildren, including Christina and her daughter Maizie was his only great-grandchild.

“My wee girl and I were really close to him. She was his first great-grandchild and they had a special bond. He absolutely adored her.

“We’re a tight-knit family and most of us live near to one another. His sudden death has had a huge impact on all of us and it’s been really hard to come to terms with.”

Motivated her tragic loss, Christina is joining thousands of other fundraisers by putting her best foot forward, to take part in Jog 26 Miles in May and raise money for Brain Tumour Research.

Registrants can complete this virtual challenge in a way that suits them and at their own pace, whether it’s jogging a little each day or completing a full marathon in one go.

“This May marks the first anniversary of my grandad’s death, so when I saw this event advertised on Facebook, I thought it was a perfect way to remember him, one year on.

“Through our tragic experience, I have learned a lot about brain tumours. I was shocked to discover that the disease kills 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.

“I’ve joined the Jog 26 Miles a Day in May Facebook group and have been inspired reading other people’s stories. Before losing Grandad, I didn’t realise just how many people are affected by this awful disease. I hope by sharing my story, I can encourage other people to recognise the early signs of a brain tumour,” Christina said.

“I usually run a few times a week anyway but I’ve had to stop since October, as I had an injury. This will be a great way of getting back into it, all while raising money for a fantastic cause. I want to raise as much money as I can. I hope Grandad would be proud.”

To register to take part visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/jog26milesinmaychallengeParticipants will receive a free gift and printed mile tracker.

To donate via Christina’s fundraising page, visit: https://www.facebook.com/donate/765414654114842