When Catherine Reeve was suffering with serious headaches, she was told it could be due to stress or even depression.
The 38-year-old mum from Writtle, Essex, was set to move to her new home after living in Walthamstow for ten years when she started feeling sick and experiencing pains in her head.
But following a scan, Catherine received the devastating news that the pain was being caused by an aggressive brain tumour.
She went through weeks and months of gruelling treatment to give her the best chance of survival, with her husband Steve, 43, and their seven-year-old daughter Rose by her side.
Now, four years later, Catherine is well enough to run her own marathon to raise vital funds for a brain tumour charity which supported her through her own terrifying ordeal.
After the official London Marathon was cancelled in April, Catherine had to find an alternative.
She will now be running back and forth between Writtle and Chelmsford tomorrow (Sunday, October 4) to complete the distance – raising £10,000 in the process.
“I had to teach my legs to walk”
The family were in the process of finalising their move to Writtle in July 2016 when Catherine’s physical health began to suffer.
“I was throwing up and I had a lot of headaches,” she said.
“We were living in Walthamstow and after ten years we were moving to Essex.
“I went to the GP who said it could be stress or depression, but they did suggest I should go and have a scan, and it was diagnosed.
“It was all quite sudden.”
Catherine had a scan at Broomfield Hospital which confirmed she had a glioblastoma tumour, a form of cancer that produces star-shaped cells in the brain.
She had to stay in hospital for weeks and was transferred to Queens Hospital in Romford where she received a range of treatment including two operations, one of which she was awake for.
Over the course of the next year, the 38-year-old also had chemotherapy and radiotherapy to give her the best chance of fighting off the cancer.
“I was in another world,” she said.
“I was muddling through with the support of my mum, dad, husband Steve, my daughter and my family and I was getting on with life as much as I could.
“I lost the ability to move the right-hand side of my body and I had to have physio on that. It came back but it took a long time and it was really frustrating.
“I had to teach my legs to walk and I had to train my hands to use a knife and fork again.”
Marathon was on Catherine’s bucket list
Since her treatment, Catherine has been having an MRI scan every three months.
Part of the tumour is still there but she is currently managing to live a normal life with her family.
Speaking to EssexLive, Catherine, who works as a teacher in Harlow, explained that the London Marathon had always been on her bucket list and she was due to take part in April this year before Covid-19 forced organisers to cancel.
But that wasn’t going to stop her from achieving her goal.
“I wanted to get back to normal,” she said. “Every three months I have an MRI and I see my onchologist. I’m getting on with life.
“Running has never been something I enjoy but the marathon has always been on my bucket list.
“I thought that if my life was going to be limited by the tumour I should go and do it now, don’t live with regrets.”
How you can support Catherine on her journey
The 38-year-old will run the journey between her home in Writtle and that of her parents in Chelmer Village Way four times, roughly six miles each way.
She will be leaving Paradise Road in Writtle at around 9am on Sunday morning and again between 11.30am and 12pm.
Catherine hopes to pass through Chelmer Village Way at around 10.15am and 1pm.
Her route will take her along Lodge Road, through Admirals Park and Central Park, following the city centre pedestrian and cycle ways before hitting Sandford Road, Chelmer Road, Dukes Park and Chelmer Village Way.
The distance will be completed with a lap around Writtle in the early afternoon.
Her family members and friends will be joining for parts of the run, hoping to bring a tiny bit of the London Marathon to Chelmsford.
If anyone wants to look out for Catherine and give her a cheer, she will be wearing a white, red and blue Brain Tumour Charity top, or a pink jacket if it’s raining.
Sign up to the EssexLive newsletter
If you’re looking for a way to stay up to date with the latest breaking news from around Essex, the EssexLive newsletter is a good place to start.
The daily update will deliver the top news and features to your inbox every morning and evening.
We choose the most important stories of the day to include in the newsletter, including crime, court news, long reads, traffic and travel, food and drink articles and more.
Signing up to the newsletter is simple. Just put your email address in the box at the top of this story and click ‘subscribe’.
It’s one of the many ways that you can read the news that matters to you from EssexLive.
Raising £10,000 for charity
Since Catherine started fundraising for the event she’s managed to raise almost £10,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity.
Part of that money has come through a Just Giving page and people are still able to donate to her cause through the website.
She said: “It’s great for the charity. They’ve been really supportive and they are doing so much research into brain tumours.
“It affects everything in your life, it can take everything away from you.
“Your ability to see, to feel, to feed yourself. I don’t think any other tumour does that.
“I just want to do it for them.”