Nurses 'Sprint' to aid brain tumour research

Father's scan revealed large, late-stage tumour

Holly Anderson's father may have cancerous brain tumours, but he feels lucky. She feels fortunate, too, because they know others are less blessed.

"Although he has a brain tumour and that's not the best news in the world, we've tried to make it in such a way that we can do something about it," Anderson said. "And the Brain Tumour Foundation has helped me to do that."

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Anderson has galvanized a team called Neuro Nurses to participate in the 2012 Vancouver Spring Sprint on Sunday, May 27, to raise money for the London, Ont.based Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the foundation hopes to exceed the $1.6 million raised across Canada last year to help with information, support and research involving brain tumours.

Her father Peter, a 64-year-old ski instructor and fly fishing guide who lives in Canmore, Alta., behaved abnormally last summer. He suffered a severe headache the week before a trip in October and made a doctor's appointment for the following Monday. He experienced slight left-side paralysis while he was away. A scan later revealed he had a large, late-stage tumour in his right temporal lobe. He was airlifted to Calgary where the tumour was removed. "He's really been lucky in that he regained all of his functioning," Anderson said.

The 25-year-old first-semester nursing student at the University of B.C. subsequently assumed the charity coordinator role through the nursing undergraduate society. She's since represented the Brain Tumour Foundation at social and sports events.

Her mother has received individual support through the foundation's toll-free phone line, and the organization gave Holly's parents a handbook that includes information about tumours, practical tips and side effects of treatment and medications. "So it just confirmed all the things we weren't sure was normal or not," Anderson said.

Eleven nursing students and friends will join her for the Spring Sprint that includes a 2.5-kilometre walk and a five-kilometre walk or fun run and requires no registration fee. Neuro Nurses raised $1,690 online by May 16. Anderson collected $1,180 of that amount largely from her father's friends.

Her father is poised to thank his friends with an email link to a video about the 2012 Survive and Thrive Expeditions ski day he co-organized last month. He hopes to make it an annual event. He is also donating a fly fishing trip to the Spring Sprint and cancer support agency Wellspring Calgary.

Twenty-seven Canadians are diagnosed with a brain tumour every day. The stage of the tumour is more important than whether it's cancerous because it affects the brain. Benign tumours can become cancerous tumours and cancerous cells can multiply.

Symptoms in addition to those experienced by Anderson's father include problems with vision, hearing, nausea and weakness. He underwent radiation and chemotherapy in December. Since then, he's had chemotherapy every 28 days. A recent MRI discovered three small tumours in his brain so he's slated for surgery the day after Spring Sprint.

"It just really reinforces why I'm [raising money] and why the Brain Tumour Foundation is so relevant, because there isn't a cure for brain tumours," Anderson said.

But Vancouverites need to raise more money. "[Vancouver teams] have [raised] $21,087 and our goal is $60,000," she said.

The Vancouver Spring Sprint starts at the Burnaby Lake Rugby Club, 3760 Sperling Ave. Participants can register online or at 10 a.m. the day of the sprint, which starts at 11 a.m on May 27. For more information, click on "Spring Sprint" at Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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