Beanies for brain cancer

Mark Hughes with Vicky Bonventi

Mark Hughes with Vicky Bonventi

Vicky Bonventi says she owes her life to a doctor in Coffs Harbour who listened to her carefully for five minutes then sent her to get an MRI.

A vague set of symptoms she'd had for six months - a niggle on her left side, feeling tired, being forgetful when she was usually well organised - turned out to be a brain tumour.

"I was very lucky," Vicky said. "It was quite huge and it had started to push from the left side over the centre line in my brain. Another couple of weeks, the surgeon said, and it could have been pretty bad."

She had the scan on January 2 last year and the operation three days later.

After she woke up, a caseworker from the Mark Hughes Foundation was there to offer anxiety-reducing support and advice.

The Mark Hughes Foundation is a charity set up by Newcastle footballer Mark Hughes and his wife Kiralee following Mark's diagnosis with a brain tumour in 2013.

Its mission is to raise awareness and funds for research - brain cancer has a very high mortality rate but it receives little federal government funding and unlike breast cancer, its survival rates have hardly changed for 30 years.

The foundation also supports brain cancer patients and their families and runs forums and seminars to keep them informed about treatments and research findings.

Vicky even received a call from Mark Hughes himself.

"He'd been talking to someone who knew me and he got my phone number and rang to help me learn how to be positive when I had to go for follow-up tests," Vicky said.

"To tell you the truth, I can't recall his exact words, but I can still feel the warmth of what he said. He talked about staying confident, keeping your thoughts positive, training your mind so when it starts to wander down the wrong path you can bring it back."

A couple of weeks ago, Vicky decided she would try to give a bit back to the Mark Hughes Foundation by asking Group 2 Rugby League if they would run a Magic Beanie Day on their last competition round, which is Sunday July 21.

"I thought this would mean quite a few more MHF beanies would sell. When I asked, all the clubs from Grafton to Macksville agreed immediately," Vicky said.

"Straightaway, local businesses jumped in to help, offering wonderful prize packages and vouchers.

"This is what happens when you live in a such a place - filled with such beautiful and kind people."