Andy’s story

Written by Guest Writer

September 4, 2023

I’m Andy and in 2017 I was rushed to hospital as an emergency and diagnosed with a large Meningioma brain tumour. This was immediately surgically removed via a craniotomy at Southampton NHS hospital, and I was given the all-clear.

However, in 2022 I was diagnosed with some regrowth which was successfully treated by stereotactic radiotherapy, also commonly known as Gamma Knife radiotherapy. This involved exposing the brain tumour cells to targeted radiotherapy, whilst being tightly constrained to the table by a specially fitted face mask.

The after-effects of my tumour, the brain surgery itself and radiotherapy means that whilst I look fine, there is a constant battle with debilitating fatigue, and my spatial awareness and ability to process information have been permanently damaged. I still maintain a good quality of life however and have devoted my reduced mental energies to volunteering for a number of related charities.

Following my shock diagnosis with a brain tumour, the Brain Tumour Charity proved a vital and amazingly supportive resource to help me and my family understand what I was going through. The charity also gave me hope that I could live a full, active life after recovering from brain surgery. I vowed after recovery to try to help any others being impacted by diagnosis and treatment of brain tumours who like me are often looking for more guidance and support. I recently retired early which has given me more time to support others in the way I found so valuable.

I recently won the 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Brain Tumour Charity, who then proposed me for the National Third Sector UK Charity Awards, for which I’ve been shortlisted as volunteer of the year.

The nomination reads:
“A true voice for change, Andy has volunteered for three roles over the past year, continuously using his lived experience of a brain tumour diagnosis to support others and accelerate progress. He has been instrumental in keeping our online communities a safe space as a peer support volunteer, and, as an Involvement Champion, he’s selflessly given his time to help shape our work and drive us forward towards our goals. If that wasn’t enough, his passion as our podcast co-host shines through as he raises awareness and empowers others to share their stories.

I am also an active member of the Radiotherapy UK Charity’s Patient Engagement Group, where my time and views are an essential contribution to the development of Radiotherapy UK’s patient information resources. I am able to bring my lived experience of a brain tumour and radiotherapy to help ensure their information resources are as relevant and supportive as possible.
I also provide Peer Support for people affected by a brain tumour through the Brains trust Charity. The aim of the peer support service is to directly connect those affected by a brain tumour with one of the volunteer peer supporters, to help them to feel better understood and supported.

My journey through emergency diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, coupled with my ongoing challenges living with the after-effects of my brain tumour has been life-changing for me and my family in a negative way. However, my volunteering activities and the immense satisfaction I’ve gained from helping so many others in their time of need has been immensely positive and continues to inspire me to do as much as physically possible whilst I am able to.


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