On October 1 last year, Jennifer Hughes went out to lunch with friends. She’d been suffering from headaches for a while but on the day her noticeable stumbling, falling sideways, and veering left while walking sounded alarm bells – and they raced her off to the Byron hospital.
‘The hospital did a variety of tests including a brain scan where they found an unexplained mass,’ said Jen from her home in Ocean Shores. ‘They transferred me to the Gold Coast hospital. They did an MRI and diagnosed a GBM grade 4 tumour.’
A few days later Jennifer had surgery to remove 95 per cent of an aggressive brain tumour.
In the last few months while exploring her options and treatments, Jennifer says she has been incredibly lucky in that, for most of her treatment she has felt well.
‘While having the treatment I began researching brain cancers and was shocked to learn of the statistic.’
• Around 1,700 people are diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia annually and approximately 1,200 die from the disease every year.
• Brain cancer kills more children in Australia than any other disease and more people under 40 than any other cancer.
• Relative five-year survival for brain cancer has hardly changed for 30 years, increasing by only 1 per cent between the periods of 1984-1988 and 2009-2013.
• Only two in ten people diagnosed with brain cancer will survive for at least five years
• Between 1982 and 2014, brain cancer incidence and mortality trends showed little change.
A ‘run’ to raise funds
So along with her treatment of surgery and chemo, Jen plans to highlight the cause and raise funds for much-needed research.
Jen and her family, work colleagues, and friends from near and far, past and present, are entering the Sun Run Cole Classic 2019 in Sydney. Rather than running they are walking from Dee Why to Manly (about seven kilometres). Jennifer says that for her it will be more of an ambling stroll. She and her support crew have been fundraising in the local area, and currently sit at the top of the Sun Run leaderboard, having raised $12,628.95 toward her goal of $20,000.
‘I am extremely lucky to have a big support base of family and friends who are keen to help,’ she says. ‘We live in a very generous and supportive community. Many people in the country are already working hard to achieve this, such as Charlie Teo, Mark Hughes, and Carrie Bickmore.’
Jen says if she can help in any little way that would be a great thing. ‘Since the diagnosis my outlook on life has changed,’ says Jennifer. ‘I am more appreciative of the world around us and better able to live life in the moment. I am also more confident as I don’t have time to waste. I love to take photos and have been taking photos in the local area during my walks and sharing them on Facebook. I recently put out a calendar of some of my photos, which has been a great fundraiser. It’s another way of stopping, noticing, and sharing the wonders of the world around us.’
Jen says it has been heartwarming and humbling to have the local businesses as well as friends and family get behind her efforts so enthusiastically.
That probably says a lot about Jen.
‘I sincerely hope we get a breakthrough soon,’ she says. ‘I know a lot of people are working very hard to achieve this goal and we appreciate their efforts immensely!
‘Thank you, and good luck to you all!’
If you would like to support Jennifer in her quest for funds, please visit her Sun Run Cole Classic page.