In Fundraising News

 ‘I may have a disability, but I don’t have an inability to achieve my dreams’

What does it take to complete a marathon? Determination, dedication and perseverance. A background in running, perhaps? Not necessarily.

We recently heard from Leighton who has just signed up to take on next year’s Brighton Marathon in support of brainstrust. Leighton has been battling a Ganglioglioma brain tumour for over a decade now, as he shares below:

At the age of 9 I started experiencing these burning pains in my chest. Later, I started to experience black outs after these burning pains, and deja vu (which we later found was an aura which lets you know that you’re about to go into a seizure). So, I went to the doctors and they did tests. I got diagnosed with epilepsy, complex partial seizures (the peak of my seizures back then was 8 a day). They did further tests, and from my MRI they found I had a Ganglioglioma brain tumour, a benign tumour in my front right temporal lobe.

When I was 10, at the end of Year 6, I went under the knife to remove the tumour. After that op I had the Summer to heal and I was straight back into the deep end by going to secondary school with no support. Later, having another scan, they found there was more of the tumour. So, a year and a bit from my first operation, I went under the knife again to find that my front right temporal lobe was diseased. That infected part of my brain and the tumour was to be removed.

I had my scans after this op to find that there was a little bit of ‘scar tissue’ and all sounded promising. But, as you’ve probably gathered, that wasn’t scar tissue. Yep, it was my tumour and it just kept growing.

Having the amazing support from my mum, a specialised school and different charities, I became the confident guy I am now. But going to 2017, my seizures hit an all time low by having tonic-clonic seizures and it really didn’t look good. So, a couple of weeks later I was in for my third operation. They didn’t remove all of it as it is too close to a blood vessel.

Within my life I have had three brain surgeries to try and remove my tumour. Right now there are talks of a fourth operation, but I’m really tired at this point. I’d rather focus my energy on my dream, as that is to be a stand up comedian.

On his journey to achieving his dream, Leighton also wants to conquer his next challenge – running the Brighton Marathon in April 2021. When we asked Leighton to share his running experience. He replied:

“My running background is pretty nonexistent. Truth be told I started running this morning!”

Although Leighton hasn’t quite yet broken in his running shoes, he knows he has what it takes to conquer a challenge some people wouldn’t even dream of.

In 2018, Leighton traveled to Tanzania to trek Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world.

Kilimanjaro – This was a year after my third op. My seizures were controlled by medicine and things were great. So I signed up unbeknownst to my mum, hehe, and at the time I was gonna go with my English tutor but he pulled out due to personal reasons. So I was put amongst 3 random strangers. We were raising money for a local primary school.

I didn’t train as much as I should have, but later learning that wasn’t my main concern – going up I got altitude sickness, but I was well enough to push on. Due to being and feeling sick, I lost nutrients and wasn’t able to eat the right amount as required. I was heavily fatigued before the major push up to the top. But, I persevered even though it was mentally tough and it was one of the most rewarding feelings ever as you’re at the highest point in Africa. I can’t describe how beautiful it was walking above the clouds and sleeping under the stars. Learning a different culture and seeing how easy I have it… it puts things in perspective. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would!

Leighton filmed his adventure, so you too can experience his emotional and triumphant journey. Filmed in two parts, simply click the YouTube links below to start watching:
You can also listen to a podcast Leighton is featured on, here: https://youtu.be/07yWQkocVt0
Running alone is a completely new experience for Leighton, never mind running over 26 miles! His inspirational journey continues, and we have no doubt that he’ll be just as proud of himself crossing that finish line, as he was when he completed Mount Kilimanjaro. We’re thrilled to have Leighton on board team brainstrust, and we’ll be joining the crowds cheering him on all the way! P.S. If you’d like to share your training hints and tips with Leighton – he’d love a running buddy to help him along the way! Please get in touch with our Community Fundraiser, Sophie