BRAIN cancer survivor Rebekah Jennings has been on a mission to raise awareness and funds to support those with the disease – enlisting the help of colleagues and residents at the Teesside care home where she works.
The activities coordinator at The Beeches Care Home, on Green Lane, Stockton-on-Tees, was diagnosed with a grade four brain tumour two years ago.
Since she entered rehab in March 2021, she has been campaigning for various charities, and has raised over £8,000 so far.
In one of her latest fundraising feats, Rebekah arranged “Wear a Hat Day” in support of charity Brain Tumour Research, where her colleagues and residents at The Beeches donned a variety of silly hats while taking part in quizzes and games.
Rebekah also took the opportunity to share her battle with cancer at the event. She said: “I had to undergo extensive treatment, including a craniotomy that removed around 95% of the tumour.
“Then I had an intensive course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, followed by another six months of increasing doses of chemotherapy.
“In March 2021, my treatment ended and I began extensive rehab, but the medical team picked up a regrowth. It has now stabilised but I have MRI scans every three months.”
Rebekah made a cautious return to work in October 2021, during the second wave of COVID-19 in the UK.
She said: “Because of COVID and the side effects of my treatment, I had to isolate for a long time, so I have loved being back at The Beeches.
“The residents are great and seeing their smiling faces inspires me. They’re so resilient and make me laugh.”
Resident Eric Simpson, 90, said: “Rebekah is a load of fun. She always has us up singing and dancing.”
Janet Wren, 89, added: “Rebekah always makes me smile. She’s a gem.”
Alongside fundraising, Rebekah also shaved off her hair and donated it to The Little Princess Trust before her operations, which was used to make two wigs for children suffering from hair loss.
She has made donations to Ward 24 at The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and Brain Tumour Research. And she is now planning further activities to support those fighting brain cancer, including a race night for residents and family members at The Beeches Care Home.
Rebekah added: “I’m raising awareness of brain cancer because, of all the cancers, it’s the biggest killer of people under 40. And yet only 1% of national research spend goes to brain cancer research.
“The brain tumour has taught me to never take life for granted. Don’t take no for an answer as your health is too important.”
Christine Conway, home manager at The Beeches Care Home, said: “We were delighted to support Rebekah in her mission to raise funds and awareness for Brain Tumour Research.
“The residents and staff all loved Wear a Hat Day and we’re in the process of planning further events to help Rebekah with future fundraising.”
To support Rebekah’s Brain Tumour Research appeal visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thebeecheshillcare.