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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

“Strength, bravery, determination and positivity… I am indestructible”

by Catherine (Cat) Heald

I was only 35 when I was diagnosed with a glioblastoma (GBM) in June 2020 and told it was incurable and terminal.  After surgery, 30 sessions of radiotherapy alongside chemo tablets, I was back at work as a production quality controller in graphic design on Monday 12 October, 2020.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a positive person. I had such a lovely childhood with my parents and older brother, enjoying riding my bike, roller skating and playing football with Dad, as well as swimming and dancing lessons, gymnastics and trampolining, and music school on Saturday mornings.

My positive outlook is all down to my parents. They raised me to enjoy life and make the most of every day – I’ve been fortunate to carry that characteristic into my adult life and, to this day, I still live my life to the fullest. I believe that a positive and happy life is contagious and, if you’re happy, everyone else around you will feed off that happiness!

Since my diagnosis I’ve been determined to keep as active as I can. During my two stays in the John Radliffe Hospital in Oxford, I was classed as a high dependency patient and confined to the ward. I lost count of the times I walked up and down the corridors just to keep myself busy and to stretch my legs.

During all three lockdowns, my trampolining club was closed. I had been training and studying to become a level 2 coach, passing my practical assessment just before the first lockdown in March 2020. When the club finally reopened in April 2021, I returned to coaching and I haven’t looked back since!

Music has always been very important in my life. Towards the end of my first year at university I decided I wanted to buy a drum kit and teach myself how to play a few basic beats. Since then, my Dad and I now perform live music at charity events.

Music is powerful! While I was going through my radiotherapy treatment, and at each MRI scan, I was singing through lyrics of various songs in my head to keep my mind occupied. I had to remember to keep still though as, being a drummer, it was so tempting to tap my feet along to the beat I had in my head!

It was during the first few months of 2021 that a crazy fundraising idea started to form in my head.

As I had been diagnosed on Friday 12 June 2020, I decided to cycle, run, row and trampoline a distance of 1206.20 km (to signify the diagnosis date) over 17 weeks (the length of my treatment), starting on Saturday 12 June and ending on Friday 8 October 2021.  I named it Cat’s Crazy Charity Challenge and raised more than £2,000. Read more about it here

I didn’t stop there as I am taking part in lots of 2022 fundraisers: I completed the 10,000 Steps a Day in February challenge and Jog 26.2 Miles in May. I will be taking part in August’s Cycle 274 miles Challenge and the 100 Star Jumps a Day in November. My 2022 JustGiving link is live until the end of the year:

Being diagnosed with a GBM, the average survival prognosis was quite a shock to my husband and me: just 12 to 18 months which is an appalling statistic. I did my research and found out that only 25% of glioblastoma patients survive more than a year with just 5% surviving more than five years. These statistics have made me more determined than ever to live my life to the fullest and enjoy every day. I recently celebrated my 38th birthday, so I feel very fortunate to have already outlived the prognosis. It’s no wonder that my senior consultant is always so pleased at my MRI scan results and keeps telling me to carry on living my life exactly as I am. Whatever I’m doing, it’s working and keeping me fit and healthy!

I have also found Twitter extremely useful to connect to a wide variety of people going through similar journeys to me. It’s so refreshing to chat with others who understand the diagnosis, treatment, how people have reacted to the news and how they have dealt with it or adapted their lifestyles. If you would like to follow me, my username is @moggie1984 


My one remaining goal following my diagnosis is to drive my little car again. Due to DVLA regulations I had to voluntarily surrender my licence after my diagnosis in June 2020 and wasn’t allowed to drive again until two years after my final treatment date. That date is Sunday 9 October 2022 – not far away! It will feel amazing to finally be allowed to drive again and have my independence back in full!

Of course, I have other goals! To continue working, keep as fit and healthy as I can through trampolining, coaching, walking and cycling. My oncology unit will monitor me with regular MRI scans for the rest of my life. I will continue to live each day with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. If the last two years have taught me anything it’s never to take life too seriously – anything can happen and it’s our job to carry on regardless!

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