Former Miss Teen Lincoln Eva MacDonald has shared her harrowing brain tumour story after being selected as a young ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity.
At the age of five, Eva’s teacher at Mount Street Primary School in Lincoln (now Mount Street Academy) noticed that her handwriting had deteriorated over the summer holidays and she was referred for hospital scans, revealing she had a brain tumour.
Despite several visits to the GP over 18 months suffering from headaches, nausea, stiff neck and loss of balance, it was thanks to her eagle eyed primary school teacher that Eva finally received the diagnosis.
Eva, now 20, has been selected along with 21 other people all over the country as Young Ambassadors for The Brain Tumour Charity to help raise awareness and defeat brain tumours – the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 in the UK.
She said: “In 25 years, the head of the GP practice we went to had never seen a patient with a brain tumour before, which meant they were unfamiliar with the symptoms.
“It was a huge shock for my mum, but I was too young to really understand or take it in.”
She had an operation in September 2001 at The Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, to relieve pressure in her brain and, a week later, surgery to remove the tumour.
“Luckily, it was possible to remove the whole tumour,” said Eva, who lives in Lincoln with mum Kirsty, brother Mark, 19, and sister, Isabella, 15.
Biopsy results revealed it was grade 1 (non-cancerous) astrocytoma. Eva had to retake a school year due to the time out for treatment.
“Back at school, I struggled with confidence because of everything I’d been through and I felt isolated because no one else understood what it was like to have a brain tumour,” continued Eva.
After finishing her GCSEs at William Farr School in Welton, she took part in the National Citizen Service (NCS), which boosted her confidence.
“I learned skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication,” said Eva, who now works for the NCS in Lincoln as a mentor.
She also trains as a classical singer and sings at private and public events.
At 19, Eva became Miss Teen Lincoln 2015 and a finalist in Miss Teen Great Britain.
“While holding the Miss Teen Lincoln title, I visited a hospice and heard about a child who had been a patient there, terminally ill with a brain tumour.
“That, coupled with my own experience, made me even more determined to help.
“Now I want to use my story to raise awareness about brain tumours and their huge impact on the individual and their families.
“I know that having a brain tumour is truly devastating and living with the consequences can be a struggle.”
Eva is planning fundraising events and has already carried out her first charity photoshoot which took place on Sunday, June 11 and raised over £200.
Now a charity concert is in the pipeline.
Emma Wood, teenage and young adult worker for The Brain Tumour Charity, said:
“We are thrilled to have Eva as one of our new ambassadors and she’s an inspiration for other young people and children living with brain tumours.
“She’s been through the devastating impact of being diagnosed with a brain tumour and how it affects the whole family.
“Now Eva can use that in a positive way to help us raise awareness and support others going through a similar experience.”