I have smashed yet another target that had been proving ever so elusive over the last few months of neurological dysfunction. Recently I discovered just how liberating it is to know that all those frustrating episodes of: weird and sometimes horrific hallucinations, twitches, facial contortions, unexplained pains, drop attacks, loss of balance and dizzy spells, memory loss, shockingly poor concentration, facial recognition, sporadic inability to make myself understood, to find or even just formulate words, bouts of desperation, bouts of anger, near incontinence, bouts of openly talking to myself, and inability to communicate, converse, form a reasoned argument, negotiate or just make myself understood…….are all entirely down to the neurological dysfunction triggered by the brain damage left behind by the tumour, the treatment and each and every proper epileptic seizure. I now know that these manifestations are caused by the brain which, with some discipline, hard work and determination, I can encourage to drive away the episodes and even better than that, over a few years of brain focused training, reinforced by strategic eating and exercise, retrain the brain to function in an entirely normal and sustainable way.

I have also discovered just how honesty isn’t necessarily the best policy, especially when talking about brain health. People, especially organisations are nervous, very, very nervous about injury and dysfunction that they cannot see, plan for and provide for. In fact I have found that there are indeed many societal reasons, such as health and safety, which give the perfect excuse not to make that leap of faith, throw caution to the wind, and embrace my desire to live, to survive. I have found many doors closed to the potential to help me better myself, yet I have not the capacity or cognitive capability to encourage those doors open, to be able to formulate and present a winning argument to turn negative decisions into an open door with a warm embracing welcome to help me forward. As my options became increasingly limited by fear of litigation, I became increasingly frustrated and started to lose heart. I became angry at the smallest things. Even the sound of rustling plastic was enough to induce a rising tide of anger within me. Then total silence and the flashing curser of emails sent, but never replied to, would be enough to see me head bowed and close to sobbing at the desk.

BUT ALL IS NOT LOST. I have Allie, who despite everything, has stood, and continues to stand steadfastly by me. Allie who has repeatedly pulled me out of the deep dark river of despair, dries me off, warms me up and gives me the encouragement to keep fighting.

But I also have friends met through the challenge who have never given up hope and done all that they could to encourage me forward. One such group of friends is Pam Sandy and the amazing committee of the Stirling Netball Club. Despite all of my failings they kept the faith and over a couple of months put together the most incredible of Netball tournaments as a fundraiser for the Challenge, and not only that, they invited me to say a few words to open the tournament and introduce the Challenge, and then they invited me to take part in the tournament by playing in their own team, they invited my son James to play with the Stirling Clansmen American Football Team and invited my daughter Heather to play along with the junior team. They also asked me to sign and present the match ball to the winning team. And so the list goes on of things that they asked me, no challenged me, to do and the best bit… I did it. I didn’t collapse, I didn’t suffer from incontinence, I didn’t hurt myself or hurt anybody else, I didn’t talk to myself, I didn’t suffer from unexplained pain or cry. I just played netball, lots and lots of netball, a game that I had never played before so learned to play on the spot. I lost a couple of words, and struggled to find some words while talking, but that was all I lost. Instead I found, that, supported and encouraged by caring and understanding people, I can achieve remarkable things. I can sustain myself for an entire afternoon of fast flowing and cognitively challenging sport and social interaction. I could never have done that 6 months ago, but yesterday I could. I was surrounded by positivity and I fed on it like a leach. And as I grew in confidence, supported by these wonderful people, so I burst through a glass ceiling that had long eluded me.

I arrived having had my quarterly meeting with the board for the Challenge to discover that the amount raised had risen to £14,766 with an additional £149 to give to each of the 5 charities I support. But I had long wanted to punch through the £15,000 mark and still needed £234 to get there. I was taking forever as I inched towards it but yesterday gave me huge inspiration and encouragement. I challenged the players and spectators at the tournament to raise the £300 to get me through that glass ceiling. Through hard work and a passion to do the very best for the challenge they surpassed themselves and raised a whopping £920!! THE CHALLENGE HAS NOW RAISED A TOTAL OF £15,686. I am thrilled and cannot thank the amazing team of the Stirling Netball Club enough.

They not only raised a huge sum of money, but they had the courage and belief in me to support me and encourage me on despite my failings and, as a result, I have grown considerably in confidence and hope for a future free of neurological dysfunction. I will never, ever, ever, give up trying.

Yours aye