A STUDENT from Musselburgh is set for a gruelling desert trek to help fight brain cancer after her own mum’s battle with brain tumours.

Madelaine Powell, 18, of Riverside Gardens, will fly to Morocco in 14 months along with a 20-strong group of volunteers to walk 100km of the Sahara in five days in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity.

Her mum Susan, 49, who previously worked with Standard Life, has battled two brain tumours over the past 18 years, undergoing surgery at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital along with radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.

Madelaine, who is in her first year of a French and politics degree at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This cause is extremely close to our hearts.”

She did a skydive at Fife Airport to raise funds for the charity in November 2018 and is excited at the prospect of her desert challenge.

She has set up a JustGiving page in the hope of reaching her £3,000 target and is also hoping to organise fundraising nights at her home, bucket collections and bag packing.

On August 6, 2001, just six months after Madelaine was born, her mum had her first seizure at home and was rushed to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where she had a second seizure.

Madelaine said: “After undergoing many scans, it was discovered that she had an oligodendroglioma tumour.

“Due to the tumour, it was also revealed that my mum had epilepsy, which for the early years of my life had a greater impact on our day-to-day living.

“In August 2002, my mum underwent her first surgery to remove as great an amount of the brain tumour as possible. This thankfully went successfully.

“Unfortunately, in 2009, a routine scan showed unexpected changes which resulted in her undergoing radiotherapy in the first two months of 2010.

“At this point I was turning nine years old and could not fully understand what these words meant and why my mum was losing her hair.

“Although the radiotherapy was both mentally and physically exhausting, it had helped for the time being.”

Madelaine, a former Musselburgh Grammar School pupil, said: “However, in February 2016, scans displayed further changes.

“As I was 15, I could not only fully understand the severity of the illness but also how brave a mother I had.

“In April of that year, my mum had an awake craniotomy, although as terrifying as it sounds, she remained positive and the surgeons removed as much of the tumour as they could.

“The next year, 2017, my mum endured four gruelling rounds of chemotherapy over nine months. This was extremely exhausting for her and the doctors decided to decrease it from six rounds to four as her body was unable to cope with the harmful effects.

“Today, 18 years later from her first diagnosis, my mum remains an inspiration to myself and everyone around her.

“She always stays positive and hopeful, even when times can appear the exact opposite of that.

“I am grateful that my brother and I have been raised to mirror this outlook. By living one day at a time, we have been given the most ‘normal’ childhoods, despite the circumstances being everything but that.”

Madelaine will trek 13 miles a day through the desert and is starting training with visits to the gym and hikes along beaches to get used to walking in the sand.

She said: “It will be the trip of a lifetime and I am grateful for the experience and to raise money for such a good cause.

“There will be camps set up in the desert and it will be very hot during the day but at night it becomes extremely cold.”

Susan said: “I’m so proud of Madelaine for signing up for the trek but, at the same time, I worry about her challenging herself like this.

“I’m sure she will be fine, as once she sets her mind to something, nothing will get in her way.”

Last year, Madelaine’s 15-year-old brother Luke had his hair shaved off to raise about £600 for The Brain Tumour Charity.

Their dad Steve, 52, took on the challenge of a year-long walk, completing 1,200 miles

The family have held other charity initiatives, quizzes and raffles, with prizes donated by local businesses.

To support Madelaine, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/madelaine-powell1