Tilda’s Treckers go the distance for Brain Tumour Charity

A Borders woman diagnosed with a brain tumour last year was part of a family team who have walked 2000km, raising funds to fight the disease.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 11:39 am

Matilda Jaffray from Selkirk discovered she had a glioblastoma – the most aggressive type of brain tumour – following a seizure in May 2019.

She immediately underwent surgery, followed by twelve weeks of radiotherapy.

Prior to diagnosis Matilda loved hiking and had even bagged some munros.

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The shock of her diagnosis however severely impacted her physical and mental health.

Taking part in the Twilight Walk – an annual event in which participants set target distances – alongside her close family was a chance for Matilda to face the significant changes in her life and get some independence back, while raising vital funds for The Brain Tumour Charity.

“Before my diagnosis and treatment I had been working full time in the community as a care manager in a local social work team, having previously worked as a community mental health nurse for the NHS,” Matilda said.

“I have been unable to return to the job I enjoyed and am no longer permitted to drive so I lost my independence.”

She said the challenge motivated her to get back to the outdoors with her family and Spanish Water Dog, Rico.

“I have managed to regain confidence in myself and some independence since being part of the Twilight walk,” she said.

“Walking increased my confidence and I began walking locally and independently, something I continue to do despite the weather and the end of the challenge.”

Walking alongside Matilda was husband Michael, son Ryan, daughter Elizabeth, mum-in-law Eleanor and sister Emma.

Ryan set himself a huge challenge, completing over 600 kilometres while Eleanor, 72, contributed 355 kilometres to the team total.

Matilda defied her diagnosis and completed an amazing 485 kilometres.

Favourite local routes included the Haining lochside circuit, the Three Brethren, and Traquair to Selkirk and back. Together, Team Tilda’s Trekkers walked a total of 2,141 kilometres, and raised over £2,400 for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Matilda said: “Teamwork, camaraderie and the usual family competitiveness kept us all motivated, along with being involved in helping to raise awareness and funds for brain tumour charity.

“There is a lack of awareness of brain cancer compared to other forms of cancer, therefore the team involvement in the Twilight Virtual Walk 2020 has hopefully widened awareness too.”

Geraldine Pipping, the charity’s director of fundraising, said: “We are extremely grateful for all the efforts made by our fantastic fundraisers and are so grateful for the efforts of our Twilight Walkers this autumn.

“Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of the under 40s and, unlike other cancers, survival rates have not improved over the last 40 years.

“We are leading the way in changing this and truly fighting brain tumours on all fronts through our work.

“We receive no government funding and rely 100% on voluntary donations, so it’s only through the efforts of people like Matilda, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Emma, Ryan and Michael we can change these shocking statistics in the future and bring hope to the thousands of people who are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year.”

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40, yet less than 3% of cancer research funding goes on brain tumours in the UK.

The Brain Tumour Charity is the UK’s largest dedicated brain tumour charity, committed to fighting brain tumours on all fronts. They fund pioneering research to increase survival and improve treatment options as well as raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours to bring about earlier diagnosis.

The Charity also provides support for everyone affected so that they can live as full a life as possible, with the best quality of life.