Solihull friends take on epic trek in memory of loved one - The Solihull Observer

Solihull friends take on epic trek in memory of loved one

Solihull Editorial 13th Apr, 2023   0

A GROUP of novice hikers from Solihull honoured their adventure-seeking friend who died of a brain tumour by finishing a trek she was too poorly to complete.

The group spent Easter weekend climbing more than 2,334 metres (7,657ft) of the Welsh Three Peaks to raise money for Brain Tumour Research.

The challenge was inspired by their friend Theresa O’Donnell, who was just 33 when she died from a brain tumour in 2021.

The friends, who had no previous experience of hiking, took on the mountainous terrain of Pen Y Fan and Cadair Idris, on Friday April 7, ending the 18-hour adventure at the top of Snowdon.

One of the trekkers was Theresa’s life-time friend, Ashleigh Bedi.

She said: “The hike was gruelling but nothing we experienced during that day could match the pain Theresa experienced in her final months.”

As they reached the top of Snowdon, the group toasted their friend and scattered some of her ashes.

Ashleigh continued: “During the last months of her life, Theresa created a bucket list. Instead of spa breaks and exotic destinations, she wrote of how she wanted to summit mount Snowdon in Wales.

“Unfortunately she became too weak to do so. We want to keep her memory alive and complete her bucket list, whilst raising money for Brain Tumour Research so we hope for this to be the first of many voyages in her honour.”

In 2013 Theresa was living in New Zealand when she suffered a seizure out of the blue.

A scan revealed the shocking discovery of a mass on her brain.

When she was diagnosed with an anaplastic astrocytoma she moved back to her family home in Castle Bromwich.

An operation and radiotherapy kept Theresa’s tumour stable for six years. However, a routine scan in 2020 showed the tumour had grown and become aggressive and terminal.

Ashleigh said: “It was gut wrenching when we found out the tumour had returned, let alone that this time there was nothing more that could save our ‘Tree’, as we called her.

“The combination of radiotherapy and growth of the tumour impacted Theresa’s speech. It was hard for her to put a sentence together but she refused to let it dictate the life she had left.”

Before she died in November 2021 Theresa, who worked as a client account manager, accomplished activities including riding a Harley motorcycle, a jet ski and a horse, as well as sampling the country’s fanciest afternoon teas.

She also took a hot air balloon ride, spent the weekend on a canal boat and visited some of the UK’s most iconic destinations such as Loch Ness, Stonehenge and the Roman Baths.

The group’s epic effort has so far raised more than £11,000 for the charity, whose vision is to find a cure for all types of brain tumours.

Ashleigh added: “We felt Theresa’s presence throughout our hike – the weather was perfect, there were no queues. As we watched the sun rise and set we saw angel patterns in the clouds – her spirit felt like an orb surrounding us at the top of Snowdon.”

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