Buckingham woman’s month-long challenge inspired by niece’s brain tumour journey

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Lindsey McCluskie, from Buckingham, is taking part in a 100 Squats or Star Jumps a Day in November Challenge for Brain Tumour Research, in honour of her 10-year-old niece, Elsie Pyner, who was diagnosed with a Grade 4 medulloblastoma in March 2015 at the age of two.

Elsie underwent emergency brain surgery, during which she suffered a large haemorrhage. As a result, she developed posterior fossa syndrome, a condition that can cause changes in speech, movement, emotions and behaviour. She also developed selective mutism, a severe anxiety disorder which makes her unable to speak in certain social situations, and a processing delay.

Elsie went on to have five months of intensive chemotherapy and a second surgery to debulk her tumour, followed by high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. She now has to use hearing aids due to damage caused by the chemo.

In March 2020, a routine MRI scan detected another tumour, which was initially thought to be a relapse of Elsie’s cancerous medulloblastoma. Elsie underwent two further surgeries before it was discovered that her second tumour was entirely unrelated to the first, a low-grade juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA). She is now being monitored with six-monthly scans.

Aunt Lindsey, aged 48, said: “Your life changes forever after a brain tumour diagnosis. You don’t think something like that will ever happen to your family.

“I watched my sister’s world come crashing down and saw her somehow find the strength to carry on because she has another daughter too, who was six when Elsie was first diagnosed.

“It’s horrible to watch what they’re going through and know you can’t fix it. We hold our breath and pray every time Elsie has a scan. She’s the baby of the family, so it’s really tough.

“She suffered lots of side-effects from her first operation and has her everyday struggles but just gets on with it. She’s our little warrior, our miracle, and a very cheeky little girl.”

And she added: “I didn’t know anything about brain tumours before Elsie got sick but now I know they’re the biggest cancer killer of children and young people under 40, which is terrible.

“There needs to be more research and more funding to help other families going through this because it’s a horrible disease and shouldn’t happen, especially to children.”

Lindsay has roped in seven colleagues from her workplace at Display Creatives UK Ltd, in Milton Keynes, to join her in the fundraising challenge.

She said: “I saw the challenge and thought it sounded like fun so decided to rope some of my colleagues into doing it as well.

“We’re going to do a lot of videos and take pictures to try and keep the momentum going. Everyone’s up for the challenge and keen to raise as much money as possible for what is a great cause and a charity close to my heart.”

To add to Lindsey’s fundraising, visit

Image source: Bucks Herald

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