Girl’s brain tumour battle sparks international fundraiser challenge for specialist charity
Bermudians have signed up for an international fundraiser for a brain tumour research charity after an island teenager’s story of medical treatment for the life-threatening condition was shared online among millions around the world.
Lisa Winterman, a personal trainer and fitness instructor, was inspired by the story of her friend Katie Berry, who stepped down last month as head of Keep Bermuda Beautiful to look after her 15-year-old daughter, Emilia, after doctors in the US removed a brain tumour discovered last November.
Ms Winterman, who now lives in England, said that the news that Emilia had gone from diagnosis to surgery for a frontal lobe brain tumour came as “a real shock”.
She added: “When I lived in Bermuda, I used to run an outdoor fitness programme called Baby Boot Camp, which is where I met Katie – we were both pregnant at the same time.
“Later she would come to the programme with Emilia in a buggy. We had our second daughters at the same time as well.”
Ms Winterman saw the “10,000 Steps a Day in February Challenge” fundraiser by UK charity Brain Tumour Research as a chance to do her part and her fundraiser has raised more than ₤2,000 ($2,700) in only three days.
Ms Winterman said: “There are so many small children and children going through this.
“It shows it can happen to anybody. If people want to feel like they’re doing something to help, this is their way.”
She added: “I’m a mum with children the same age – I just thought, I can do this. You just feel useless, that you can’t do anything.
“I saw this challenge and thought, I’ll do that. And here we are.”
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
Ms Winterman, who still works in fitness in Marlborough in Wiltshire, launched Walking for Warriors 2022 to raise funds for the Brain Tumour Research charity.
She wrote in an online post to publicise the fundraiser: “For some brain tumour children, it might be they need to learn to walk again or speak again, but for Emilia, her tumour and the surgery took away her sense of self and control.
“This is so rare that doctors in Boston and London are at a loss as to how to help. The medical system is not geared up for rare and this is why research is so critical.
“The more researchers can find out about brain tumours, how the brain works and can recover, the better outcome there will be for children like Emilia Rose.
Ms Winterman said there had already been “incredible donations from friends and family in Bermuda, and some of the girls that used to come to Baby Boot Camp”.
“The whole point is to raise money for brain tumour research and, as a fitness person, I would love it for as many people to do the fitness challenge as possible.”
Ms Winterman appealed to people to set their own challenge, whether through walking, running or swimming, and said they could create challenges all through February around Valentine’s Day, beach walking and family activities.
Ms Berry, who is in Boston with her daughter, said last week that Emilia had just started a four-week rehabilitation programme after the surgery.
She added that she had just done her first 10,000 steps on the treadmill.
Ms Berry said her LinkedIn post about Emilia’s health crisis and her decision to quit her job to look after her continued to be “noticed and people send words of encouragement from all over the world”.
Mel Tiley, Brain Tumour Research’s community development manager, told The Royal Gazette: “We were so sorry to learn about Emilia’s diagnosis and wish her all the very best for her treatment.
“Our thoughts are with Emilia and her family at this truly difficult time. What Lisa is doing to support the Berry family is really inspiring and we thank her sincerely for her efforts.”
Ms Tiley added: “Emilia’s story reminds us of the indiscriminate nature of this hideous disease and the desperate need for more funding into research to help find better treatments and improve outcomes for brain tumour patients.
“We wish Lisa and her team of walkers all the very best with their challenge and look forward to seeing how many steps they manage to achieve.”
Ms Winterman asked people taking part in the challenge to share their pictures by e-mail to email@example.com.