Big hearts help to beat cancer

TWO weeks ago they were careless 20somethings whose Facebook chatter revolved around cocktails, men, work, their mutual love for animals, and, of course, red velvet cupcakes.

Then cancer struck Natasha Brown, 22, of Westering.

At first doctors thought it was stress. She had a seizure on December 12 but she was told that it was one-off attack. She was told to rest.

But on January 19 she had two more seizures.

"I cannot really explain how bad it was," Brown said. "I used to get hectic headaches but I never thought anything of it."

She was taken to Provincial Hospital and referred to Greenacres Hospital for a CT scan.

"I don't have a medical aid," she said.

Doctors then sent her for an MRI scan.

"An MRI scan is the worst thing ever," she said.

The news, however, was even worse. Brown had a fast-growing brain tumour, already at that stage measuring 6cm.

With that – and a doctor's note – everything changed.

"The patient has a brain tumour," neurosurgeon Dr Frik van Aarde wrote.

"Surgery is scheduled for February 5. [She] should be booked off from today [until further notice]."

Brown said: "The doctor phoned my dad. My dad came into the room and said, 'This is not good'."

To remove the tumour, which is growing by 1cm a month and will start to affect the speech centre of her brain, will cost R200000.

"My dad said that he will pay it," her 19-year old sister Shannen said. Brown said: "All we knew about cancer until last week was that my grandfather died of it."

Then love happened.

"First we cried a lot," Brown's friend Trish Henderson said. "Then we started working."

She started spreading word of Natasha's illness on Facebook and by yesterday nearly R10000 had been raised, with money coming from as far as Hong Kong.

After surgery, Brown will then have to undergo extensive rehabilitation.

"We have been absolutely overwhelmed by all the love for this girl that people do not even know," Trish said.

A woman who runs a tattoo parlour in Port Elizabeth, Chelsea Bell, has pledged R250 of every tattoo she creates to Brown's cause.

"My aunt, Cheryl Price, is organising a number of fundraising events," Shannen said.

Brown's cousin, Riccardo Fabrello's workplace, Caltex PE Convenience Centre, donated R2000.

Cousin Yanka Trzebiatowsky's boss, Willie Greeff, doubled all donations received in the first few days of the campaign.

"At first all I could think of is why is this happening to me," Brown said.

"Now I am just overwhelmed by all the love."

To help or get in touch join the group Cancer Operation on Facebook or get in touch with Trish Henderson on 079-3273353.