A Bexhill mum paid tribute to her 29-year-old son who will run the Poppy half-marathon just weeks after surviving a life-threatening brain tumour.
Former soldier and ex Bexhill High pupil Lee Hastings was diagnosed on Thursday September 5 and had eight hours of surgery the next day. Incredibly he will pull on his trainers on November 10 to run alongside close family including his brother, and tears will be shed when he crosses that finish line.
Angela, who lives in Salisbury Road, said of Lee: “He is brilliant. Inspirational.”
She has been moved by the way he coped with his ordeal and said: “Not once has he said - why me? why not someone else? Not once has he complained about any of it. I am so proud.”
Lee, who was born and raised in Bexhill, joined the Queen’s Grenadier Guards having passed out at the age of 21. He served in Afghanistan, where he was attached to the Royal Anglians, as well as Iraq. He married Stephanie five years ago, and having left the army settled in Hornchurch, working in security.
The couple had returned from a cruise in July when Lee began feeling unwell. He put it down to dehydration while his GP suggested ear or balance problems from disembarkment syndrome, but it turned out Lee was having up to 25 seizures every day.
He started suffering intense pain in his head which became so bad he couldn’t go to work in the first week of September and called in sick on the Tuesday. The next day the headache was so bad he went to A&E and by Thursday had the scan which revealed a black ring - a tumour of the most aggressive type and size of an egg.
“I was petrified,” said Lee. “I was in bits. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The surgeon told me it was a tumour and I broke down. Then he told me what he was going to do to it.”
Lee has nothing but praise for Mr Ian Lowe due to go on holiday but who operated next day from 8.30-4.30pm on a patient apparently awake for much of it. He was treated at Queen’s Hospital in Romford and thanks all the staff there who helped care for him.
“They said I was talking and chatting to them ,” said Lee, “but I can’t remember, though I know they must have had to drill my skull because I can remember the sound of that. It was not as bad as it sounds. Having stitches was probably worse.”
Having been told that surgery removed as much of the tumour as could be seen, Lee recovered in hospital for four days before going home. He started chemo and radiotherapy, but by September 21 felt well enough to join Stephanie on a three-mile run. She said: “He is such a soldier. He just kept on going, and for him to handle it as much as he did, and never complain, is just mindblowing. All of us wish we had half as much courage, dedication and perseverance.”
Lee will take part in Bexhill
Poppy half-marathon on Remembrance Sunday beginning at 12.30pm. It is hoped 1,000 runners will start this year, in what is the sixth organised by Bexhill Runners and powered by TL Sports Events. The event is a fundraiser for the Royal British Legion but Lee is aiming to raise funds for the Brian Tumour Charity - donations to www.justgiving.com/lee-vs-cancer