Natalie will hit the heights for charity

From right, Angela Conway, Natalie Sweeney, their friend Jola (also a member of the Maggies group) and Natalies sister Adelle Hicks at a photo shoot to highlight Brain Tumour Awareness Month. Picture courtesy of Cambois Camera Club.
From right, Angela Conway, Natalie Sweeney, their friend Jola (also a member of the Maggies group) and Natalies sister Adelle Hicks at a photo shoot to highlight Brain Tumour Awareness Month. Picture courtesy of Cambois Camera Club.

Two women from Northumberland who had operations after being diagnosed with brain tumours are backing an awareness campaign.

Angela Conway and Natalie Sweeney, both aged 28, met at a support group for teenagers and young adults across the region.

They are backing March’s Brain Tumour Awareness Month and Natalie is also raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity after signing up for a skydive.

It is due to take place at an airfield in Peterlee, County Durham, on Saturday, March 25. The Bedlington resident is not the only daredevil in the family as she will be joined by her 79-year-old great aunt Sheila Brewis.

Doctors initially diagnosed the pain she was suffering as cluster headaches, but in June 2015 – the fifth time she went to either a GP surgery or A&E – Natalie was suffering from severe hallucinations and she received a CT scan at Wansbeck General Hospital.

It revealed a large mass on her brain and she was rushed to the RVI hospital in Newcastle for life-saving surgery.

Natalie has a grade three cancerous incurable brain tumour (oligodendroglioma) and following periods of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, she now has a contrast MRI every six months at the Freeman hospital in Newcastle.

She said: “I have always remained very positive. I may have a terminal illness, but at least it is treatable so I have a good chance of living for more years to come.

“As for the skydive, it’s always something I have wanted to do, so what better way to take something off my bucket list whilst raising money for the charity that will hopefully help to find a cure for me and others in the same situation.

“It will be great to do the skydive with my great aunt, who is more excited than me.”

Natalie and Angela go to the same Young People’s Networking Group at the Maggie’s centre in the grounds of the Freeman.

Angela, of Ashington, was diagnosed with a low grade astrocytoma and medics put her on what is known as ‘watch and wait’, but a scan in November 2015 showed it had increased in size and an operation took place to remove most of the tumour.

Through her award-wining blog – braintumourwarrior.wordpress.com – Angela has documented her and others’ experiences and there were more than 30,000 reads of articles on it during 2016.

She said: “The Maggies group is very helpful as we get to discuss things we are all going through, such as trying to get your driving licence back.

“Myself and Natalie have also been going to businesses, GPs and pharmacies and asking them to put a small stack of cards with brain tumour signs and symptoms information on display as part of the HeadSmart initiative.”

To make a donation to Natalie, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Natalie-Sweeney1
Funds raised during Brain Tumour Awareness Month will be allocated to a range of research activities.

For more information, visit www.thebraintumourcharity.org/get-involved/wearitout