Hospital practitioner runs London Marathon for childhood best friend diagnosed with brain tumour

A woman whose best friend is living with a brain tumour has completed the London Marathon to help find a cure for the disease.

Mary Fitzpatrick-Greening from Balham, near Tooting Common, completed the London Marathon yesterday for charity Brain Tumour Research.

Her motivation was best friend Abi Smith, 28, from Birmingham, who was diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumour in June 2019.

Ms Fitzpatrick-Greening, 28, who works as a research practitioner at Guy’s Hospital in Southwark, said: “The last 10km was a real mental challenge but the crowd kept me going and I am so happy to have finished.

“It was so emotional when I saw Abi. To know I’ve completed the London Marathon and raised money for Brain Tumour Research makes all the training and hard work worth it.”

Ms Fitzpatrick-Greening finished the London Marathon in four hours and nine minutes and has raised £4,806 so far, which will contribute towards finding a cure for all types of brain tumours.

The best friends met at school in Lichfield when they were 11.

On a family holiday to USA in June 2019, Abi suffered from severe double vision prompting her to seek medical help overseas. However, a CT scan came back inconclusive.

On her return to the UK, she was admitted to hospital after no improvement to her sight. 

Further tests revealed the 24 year old had a mass on her brain which stretched to the top of her spine. 

Abi has since undergone surgery to remove the section of tumour on her spine and gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy to treat the remaining mass on her brain, which is inoperable due to its location.

Ms Fitzpatrick-Greening said: “I saw Abi a few weeks before she was diagnosed and she was fit and healthy.

“It was hard to comprehend the news that she had a brain tumour, surreal even. 

“We were both in our early twenties, and at that age you think you’re somewhat invincible.

“I saw her as soon as she came out of surgery and we both burst into tears.

“It was shocking to see how quickly she had deteriorated in a short space of time, she temporarily lost her ability to swallow but was still the smiling Abi I know. 

“That’s how she has been throughout everything, happy and positive.

Working at a site which is a hub for research into other cancers, Ms Fitzpatrick-Greening noticed a lack in brain tumour research in comparison to other types of tumours and cancers.

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just one per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours.

She said: “This needs to change.”

Ms Fitzpatrick-Greening was joined by a team of more than 70 people running in the London Marathon on Sunday for Brain Tumour Research.

Pictured top: Mary Fitzpatrick-Greening with Abi Smith after the London Marathon on Sunday (Picture: Mary Fitzpatrick-Greening)

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