Telford runner 'doing her bit' to fight deadly disease after horror brain tumour ordeal

A mum who has been through a gruelling brain tumour ordeal is determined to "do her bit" to help find a cure for the deadly disease.

Keri Benting with daughter Abby as she prepared to go into brain surgery
Keri Benting with daughter Abby as she prepared to go into brain surgery

Fitness-mad Keri Benting, 45, was faced with the devastating news that she had a 6cm growth on her brain, and has been through two operations, 33 sessions of radiotherapy and 11 cycles of chemotherapy. She was also forced to isolate for two years to keep safe during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning she had to miss out on her beloved Telford Parkrun events.

But now, with her condition having improved, she is taking part in Brain Tumour Research’s 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge, just five months after her second brain surgery.

Keri, an auditor for Tesco, said: “A few years ago I used to run 21 miles a week, and after two brain surgeries, several months of cancer treatment and two years of shielding, I know completing this challenge will be tough.”

Keri, who lives with 24-year-old daughter, Abby, a shift leader for Tesco, first started experiencing symptoms a year before she was diagnosed with a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma in October 2019.

In June 2018, Keri, a member of Telford-based running club, Wrekin Road Runners, took part in Telford Parkrun, during which she felt ‘a rush of dread from head to toe’, which caused everything to play in slow motion and she had the sudden urge to vomit.

She went to the GP, who had no concern as she had not collapsed.

A year later, Keri developed severe headaches which were triggered every time she got out of a car. Over the course of several weeks, she went back and forth to the doctor but was told the pain was likely to be stress- or work-related due to using a tablet most days.

In September that year, in search of her own answers, she went to Specsavers in Wellington, where she was told she showed signs of having a brain aneurysm. She went straight to hospital, where she collapsed in A&E.

She said: “The doctors waited for my daughter and father to arrive before delivering the news to me. All I wanted to know was if the tumour was cancerous. I was told it didn’t present as such but it would need further investigation.”

Four weeks later, surgeons at Royal Stoke University Hospital removed 90 per cent of the tumour, leaving the remainder wrapped around the motor neurone nerve. Attempting to remove the remaining 10 per cent could have left Keri paralysed.

Biopsy results showed the tumour was a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma and Keri needed radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.

Keri was left with a scar above her ear after surgery

Keri said: “The combination of my diagnosis and Covid-19 meant that I was classed as vulnerable and needed to shield. During my treatment my immune system crashed which was very scary as it meant that even the common cold or something like chicken pox would have been detrimental.

“It was very hard to go from running outside regularly to being told I need to stay at home, especially since running had become such an important part of my life.”

During her treatment in February 2020, Keri lost her mum Brenda to a tumour of the bile duct. This shattering loss came after losing her 30-year-old sister, Karen to Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2000.

Keri said: “In a way, I think seeing what my sister and mum went through helped to prepare me for what I may have had to face throughout my treatment.”

During a routine scan, doctors found a further two ‘dots’ on her brain which were caught early and were fully removed in January 2021.

Keri said: “While I was shielding, I became a record-breaker, breaking the record for the most participants taking part in a virtual 5k at one time. I stopped shielding in December and achieved my 150th Parkrun in person. It felt wonderful to be out, moving my body again.”

She added: "The charity is only funded by donations, and after seeing the work the doctors did for me, I wanted to do my bit and give something back."

You can sponsor Keri on her 10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge by visiting facebook.com/donate/282749140541344

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