A WARWICKSHIRE man who suffered a seizure while in a swimming pool has inspired a cycling fund-raiser for Brain Tumour Research.
While swimming at Pure Health Club with his wife Sandy two years ago, Andy Griffiths suffered a tonic-clonic seizure – which affects the whole brain.
The 55-year-old was rushed to Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital where an emergency MRI scan showed a tumour growing on his brain.
Andy recalled the moment he lost control in the water: “When I was swimming, my head jerked from side to side and I really couldn’t make out where I was going. I desperately tried to get to the other end.
“Sandy was swimming in the other direction and she soon noticed something was wrong. By that time, I had made it to the end of the pool. Within a minute I had lost consciousness still in the pool. Sandy shouted for help, which came shortly afterwards.”
While most of the mass was removed, a biopsy revealed the tumour was a glioblastoma multiforme which carries with it a stark prognosis of just 12 to 18 months to live.
Six weeks of gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed alongside three-monthly scans to monitor the tumour.
Andy continued to suffer with debilitating seizures for over a year after surgery, which led to him taking medical retirement from his career as a consultant at Accenture in Warwick.
He was also forced to give up his passion for cycling.
Andy said: “Being diagnosed with a brain tumour was a massive shock, to then have to deal with seizures for months after surgery was horrible. I dreaded them happening as I couldn’t breathe and would always worry about losing consciousness or even worse, not waking up.”
His latest scan showed the tumour was growing again and since December 2021, Andy has been receiving chemotherapy for the second time.
Andy added: “It’s been 24 months since I received my diagnosis, so I already feel like I have surpassed the average life expectancy of someone with a GBM. Things have gone a bit downhill recently, as I have paralysis in my right arm and leg, which I’m told could have been caused by the radiotherapy.”
Two years after Andy’s initial seizure, when he and friend Rob were due to take part in the Belgium’s annual Tour of Flanders, Rob is taking on Flanders’ 256km cobbled challenge, to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research.
Andy aims to be at the finish line waiting for Rob, rather than taking part, with his friend Mark joining Rob and riding in his honour.
Rob said: “We have been going to Belgium together with our wives for the last ten years or so, not only to follow this event but also to celebrate our birthdays which fall around the same time.
“I remember the phone call from Andy. It was almost two years to the day from now, we were in the process of organising our almost annual pilgrimage to Bruges to go to the Ronde over our birthday week.
“I was devastated and in disbelief at Andy’s diagnosis, but life goes on and you have to set goals to help you get through, so that’s what we did and one of these was the ride this year.”
Brain Tumour Research spokesperson Mel Tiley said the charity was grateful to Andy, for sharing his story, and to Rob for taking on this challenge alongside Mark.
She added: “It’s only with the support of people like them that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like Andy, who are forced to fight this awful disease.”
Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/robwbaldwin to donate to Rob’s fund-raiser.