A brain tumour diagnosis and the treatment that follows can be a life changing experience in many different ways. For Robin-Mark Schols it meant facing a long and challenging recovery, but it also gave him a new outlook.
Robin talks about his experience:
When I woke up from my op and found out I had another chance at life I looked at myself and realised I had to do something....
Back in 2009, in my late 40’s, I'd been suffering headaches for quite some time. Then leaving work one afternoon I took a tumble and ended up in hospital having tests and a CT scan which resulted in the diagnosis of a frontal lobe brain tumour, a meningioma.
Due to the tumour’s size I had an operation within days, which was a success and, despite also having to get through pneumonia while in hospital, once home I made a steady recovery. I was very lucky not to have any chemo or radiotherapy to deal with, just a big scar, some hair growing challenges and some headaches until everything mended.
During recovery, I took the opportunity to re-evaluate my health going forward. Weighing over 16 stone and not very fit, I decided to change this, so I started running. I ran much better than expected and within months joined a running club. I've since completed hundreds of races amongst them almost 50 half marathons and 8 full marathons including London in 2014 and 2015.
"Sadly, after my London Marathon in 2015, I suffered a major setback with a massive brain infection and once again needed an emergency operation to save my life. During this op the surgeon had to remove a section of infected skull bone, to be replaced eventually by a titanium plate. In the meantime I was to wear a helmet to protect my brain.
I wanted to help promote brain tumour awareness while wearing the helmet so took part in a couple of races including the Bath Half and my marathon comeback in London April 2017. As well as the helmet I ran proudly in the colours of Brain Tumour Support.
My overriding thought is how lucky I have been through the whole process. I feel I've had to endure so little compared to some of the stories of others I've read.
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Robin-Mark in hospital, 2009, and then running his way to recovery
In 2017 I raised funds through the London Marathon and organised a new event ‘The Hilly Helmet Challenge’ where entrants are encouraged to run 4 miles in a helmet. Due to its success the event is now being staged for its third year and adding to the amount I have managed to raise for BTS so far.
The Hilly Helmet Challenge 2019
This year 185 runners donned helmets of all shapes and sizes and braved the rainy weather to take part. The event raised more than £4,000, taking Robin's fundraising total over his £10,000 target!
“The total raised from the event this year has surpassed our wildest hopes and we can’t thank everybody enough for their generosity through giving time, donations of money and prizes,” said Robin. “And I would like to thank our event partners who foot the bill to make it all happen and ensure our charity Brain Tumour Support get every penny that the runners give us.”
Previous fundraising activities
The 2nd Hilly Helmet Challenge
Edition 2 of this hugely fun and individual event returned with an even bigger entry of 150 runners and some fabulous fancy dress on show! As well as raising a lot of smiles the 2018 challenge added a fantastic £2,661 to the Robin-Mark Runs Champion Fund.
Robin took on this iconic Marathon once again proudly wearing Brain Tumour Support colours.
The 1st Hilly Helmet Challenge
The first ever running event organised entirely for Brain Tumour Support. It was a sell-out success with 115 runners – many of them wearing hilarious helmets and fancy dress. This fun event raised an amazing £2,417.36 (£500 of which was sponsorship enabling the event to happen at no cost to the charity.)
Robin began fundraising for Brain Tumour Support in earnest, and raised £1,171.50 (including a £100 Match Funding gift from his employer). As a bonus he managed to complete it in a great time for his age category, allowing him to get a Gold Bond place for 2018.
Bath Half Marathon
Robin started his fundraising for us with this Marathon wearing his helmet, and gave us £55.