Matt Shanley Cranfield Postie Image Brain Tumour Research

Postie, who stopped breathing for four minutes when he had a seizure just after brain tumour diagnosis, to take on Walk of Hope

A postman who is living with life-changing effects after being diagnosed with a rare brain tumour is taking on a Walk of Hope to raise funds to help find a cure for the disease.

Father-of-three, Matt Shanley, 46, will take on the challenge event with his wife Julie, 36, a civilian working in the Thames Valley Police control room.

Their event, on Saturday 26 September, is one of dozens of similar events taking place across the UK for Brain Tumour Research. The charity’s annual Walks of Hope are taking place virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Julie said:

“Matt and I met when he moved to Marston Moretaine and started doing some shifts at The Bell public house there, where I was also working, and we bonded over our shared love of Elvis Presley.

“Our 10-mile walk around Marston Vale’s millennium park will be quite a challenge for Matt. His surgery left him with life-changing consequences. People often say how well Matt looks, but they don’t know what he has to contend with. He has lost 50% of his sight on the left side of both eyes, which means he will never be able to drive again.”

GPs told Matt he had vertigo or inner ear damage

“Matt also has balance issues, weakness down his left side, chronic fatigue and problems with his memory. He is so lucky to have his job as a postman in our home village. It means he can walk to and from work. Pushing his trolley is great as it makes it much easier for him to balance too.

“For seven years GPs told Matt he had vertigo, or inner ear damage brought on by labyrinthitis, but it turned out to be a slow-growing brain tumour. After finally being referred to neurology and having MRI scans and tests which revealed a brain tumour, the very next day Matt had his first massive tonic clonic seizure. It was absolutely terrifying. Matt stopped breathing for four minutes and I really thought he was dead.

“He continues to have life-threatening seizures, but we are hoping that the dosage of medication he is now on continues to make these happen less frequently.”

Matt became a local celebrity

Matt, whose postal round covers his home village, has become something of a local celebrity. When he had surgery to remove the tumour in 2018, the community got behind him, sending him lots of cards to wish him well.

Villagers would pop into the Co-op, (the home of Cranfield’s post office) to gain news of how he was doing, and when he returned to work, six months after his craniotomy, they offered their support in droves. Matt was constantly offered cups of tea, cake or somewhere to sit down for a rest.

Matt is father to Georgina, 22, who lives nearby in Kempston, and grandfather to her three children Robyn, Isabell and Oliver. He also has two children with Julie: Harry, 17, an apprentice carpenter and 16-year-old Elissa, who has just started Year 11 at Wootton Upper School. Matt said:

“My life has changed immensely since I was diagnosed with brain tumour but nevertheless, I hope to be around for many more years with my wife and family.

“For so many brain tumour patients, their survival prognosis is very grim. I am taking part in Brain Tumour Research’s Walk of Hope to help find better outcomes for the thousands of people diagnosed each year.”

Matt & Julie Shanley wedding Image Brain Tumour Research

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said:

“We are very grateful to Matt and Julie for their support and wish them all the very best for their Walk of Hope.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.

To donate to Matt and Julie’s fundraising, go to Julie and Matt

To read Matt’s brain tumour story go to Matt Shanley’s Story