A young woman from North London, who overcame a Stage 4 brain tumour as a child, is gearing up for a weekend fundraising jump for The Brain Tumour Charity.
Weather-permitting, Ayse-Gul Ismail will perform a skydive in Peterborough on Saturday, 15 August, in the hope of raising £1,500 for the world’s leading brain cancer charity and funder of research into brain tumours.
The 24-year-old talked to T-VINE in advance of her charity jump, explaining her own experience of brain cancer and why she’s keen to give back.
Of Turkish Cypriot heritage, Ayse-Gul described the events leading up to the discovery she had cancer:
“I was diagnosed with a Stage 4 brain tumour, a medulloblastoma, in June 2008. I was just 12 years old. I was having continuous neck and shoulder pain, but my local doctors surgery sent me home twice [without further investigations].
“By the time I went to the GP for the third time, I had lost co-ordination on the left side [of my body] and was continuously vomiting. I was sent to Chase Farm Hospital, where a junior nurse requested an MRI scan,” she added.
The tests found a large brain tumour, the size of a peach. The tumour was so advanced, most of the doctors who initially examined Ayse-Gul thought she wasn’t going to live. Luckily for her, a brilliant Canadian neurosurgeon, Chris Chandler, was on hand to perform a 5.5 hour life-saving operation.
After that, the young Ayse-Gul had to start a gruelling process of adult-dose radio and chemo- therapy treatment. She endured radio therapy every day for six and-a-half weeks, as well as eight cycles of chemotherapy.
“I finished treatment in November 2009. By that point, I was very weak and ended up in a wheelchair for a year,” Ayse-Gul said.
There were some unexpected perks to the treatment: “During radio and chemo therapy, I lost a lot of my appetite, and was feeling a lot of nausea. But on the days I was good, I was eating plenty of lahmacun. My consultant Dr. Shankar at UCL Hospital was very proud of me and encouraged me to eat even more Turkish pizza.”
With supportive family and friends, the teenager pulled through her ordeal and went on to make a full – and for many, miraculous recovery.
Since then, Ayse-Gul has been organising different events to raise money for different charities every year. It’s her first time fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity.
Although they weren’t involved in her case, Ayse-Gul says the charity is “amazing with helping people and their families”, and that she wants support to be available for “others and their families who are going through what I have gone through.”
The learning support assistant from Southgate, who works in a primary school in Edmonton, loves to travel, going for walks, reading, and socialising. She is also learning how to cook and bake Turkish dishes. One thing she’s never done is skydive – and she’s not the slightest bit fazed by her latest challenge.
“Skydiving has always been on my bucket list, and I thought it’s another way to raise money for a great cause! I’m not afraid of heights, but I’m sure I’ll get nervous once I’m on the edge of the plane. Yet the feeling of doing the skydive excites me, I’m just buzzing to do it.
“I’m always trying to find different ways to raise money for charity, so it was time to choose skydiving!” Ayse-Gul said.
“I’ve had no training, but I have watched some videos online, which makes me feel safer,” she added.
We wish Ayse-Gul well for her skydive. If you’d like to support Ayse-Gul’s fundraiser for The Brain Tumour Charity, visit her Justgiving page here.