The vision of the Brainstrust is to enable everyone with a brain tumour to feel less afraid, less alone and more in control addressing the ‘five rings’ of health: Societal Conditions, Social Networks, Stress and Behaviour, Body and Biology. Twig were delighted to be able to support James Dickenson and his family, volunteering to raise money for the Brains Trust, undertaking a fifty-mile trek along the South Devon Coast.
In late December 2017, James’s 4-year-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Instead of spending a family Christmas in Devon, his family spent it sitting in the pediatric intensive care unit at King’s College Hospital whilst their little boy battled 12 hours of grueling surgery. Subsequently, he received radiotherapy and chemotherapy to treat the early signs of metastasis of to his spine. Happily, in October 2018, he received the all clear and rang the end-of-treatment bell.
James and his family describe their fund-raising event:
“So, this is how we came to find ourselves in Dartmouth, on a chilly April morning, at an extremely early hour waiting for a bus to take us to the start line alongside 47 other intrepid explorers. The first day wound for the first seven miles from the pretty village of Stokenham out to the coast, taking in some tantalizing views of the sea in the distance, and some early hills! By mid-morning, we reached the coast and turning east, kept the sea on our right for the rest of the day. We followed the coast, past Start Point, Slapton sands and the villages of Strete and Stoke Fleming before returning trundling down into Dartmouth. Sounds easy? Well the total distance was around 25 miles, but the hills certainly made it feel like more at times. We were encouraged on our way by the fabulous brainstrust support crew who popped up at regular points to keep us fed, watered and enthusiastic! The weather stayed fine although an icy easterly wind blew at times and there were certainly some exposed stretches of coast. Towards the end of the day, the sun finally managed to break through making the last few hills that little bit more interesting!!
As the second day dawned, the easterly breeze certainly hadn’t dropped. The short ferry journey across to Kingswear was chilly but as the first mile of the day was the steep climb up out of the village, we soon warmed up!!
The morning’s walk was every bit as challenging as we had expected. The beautiful, rugged coast line provided spectacular views but just as we reached the top of one climb, the path would plunge us back down to the next cove at sea level again! Although the going was tough and there was a lot of muttering and head shaking, the general air of camaraderie and team spirit was still strong with everyone encouraging each other as we battled through.
The check point at Man Sands provided a very welcome rest point before on towards Brixham for lunch. Tiredness was beginning to set in, but it felt like we had done most of the hard graft and that soon we would be on the Greenway ferry with Dartmouth in our sights. Sure enough, the ferry carried us safely across to Lower Dittisham where we found another huge hill to climb up out of the village. We then descended steeply to a pretty creek within a mile or so of Dartmouth, the sting in the tail being yet one final hill to defeat before the home straight. I think everyone participating had their own thoughts about that hill!
And so downhill to the finish! Back into Dartmouth, the finish line and medals, and drinks at the pub to celebrate with our new friends. The weekend was a fantastic mix of laughter, support, humbling stories and a true celebration of what we can achieve with determination and will power. There were blisters and sore legs but there was also team spirit, joy and a huge sense of achievement.
Thank you brainstrust for organizing such an awesome fundraising event as well as for being there for everyone affected by a brain tumor. “