Friends set up Barny's Fund to help Chipping Sodbury mum fighting malignant brain tumour

Claire Little, known as Barny to her friends and family, at home with five-year-old daughter Rosalia

Claire Little, known as Barny to her friends and family, at home with five-year-old daughter Rosalia

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

A CHIPPING Sodbury mother who collapsed on New Year’s Day has spoken of her devastation after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.

But Claire Little, known as Barny to all her friends and family, is determined to think positively about a forthcoming operation to remove the orange-sized tumour.

“I am a positive person so I am going to get myself in a good zone and get as healthy and fit as I can before the operation,” she said. “It is not a death sentence.”

The 41-year-old community mental health nurse, who grew up in Chipping Sodbury but lived in Brighton and Spain before returning to her hometown several years ago, had no symptoms and no idea she was ill when she went to work on New Year’s Eve.

“I went out that evening, as most people do, and the next day I was trying to talk but was not making sense,” said Barny. “Everyone thought I was hungover but then I had a seizure."

An MRI scan showed the tumour on the left side of her brain.

Barny, a single mum to five-year-old Rosalia who had only bought a new house in December, was discharged five days later. She is not allowed to drive for a year and does not qualify for sick pay as she had not been in her job for a year. She is under constant supervision from her family who fear another seizure.

“Money has been a big worry. But I was more upset about losing my independence,” she said. “I am trying to get on with normal things like cooking and putting my daughter to bed.

"Obviously I have my moments but most of the time I am saying these cells are in my body but a lot of people live with cancer.

“But it has been a big wake up call. I am told the tumour is down to my own genetics but I was doing about three people’s work, always rushing off here and there, and this is my chance to replenish my energy.”

Barny is expected to have an awake craniotomy at Frenchay Hospital later this month or in early March to remove as much of the tumour as possible without causing brain damage. Doctors have warned she made need chemotherapy as well.

“I haven’t told my daughter everything but I will tell her I have to go into hospital and have an operation," she said. “It has been a bit of a rollercoaster and at first I was shell shocked but I can only be positive.”

Friends and family are raising money to help pay her mortgage and expenses while she recovers from the operation. Barny’s Fund already totals £2,400.

“It has been overwhelming, the love and support from people,” she added. “I don’t even know some of them. I was just finishing a dissertation on meditation and mindfulness with a view to becoming a self-employed teacher. As part of that I know that feeling connected to people is really good for producing cells to fight cancer.”

Women are invited to a screening of Grease at the Armadillo youth cafe in Yate on Saturday, April 26 (3.30pm) in aid of Barny’s Fund. To support the cause contact Barny’s sister, Sophie Axford, on 07854 427394.

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