A HOSPITAL worker is tackling a gruelling bike ride to raise money for a charity which supported him when he suffered a brain tumour.

Nick Marston is cycling about 600 miles in aid of the British Acoustic Neuroma Association (BANA).

He was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a rare but benign tumour, 20 years ago.

The tumour, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, grows on the nerve used for hearing and balance.

Nick underwent successful surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, but he still suffers various side effects – including profound hearing loss in his left ear, tinnitus and impaired balance.

"Treatments are dependant on the size and precise location of the tumour and the severity of symptoms," said Nick, a medical laboratory assistant at Airedale Hospital.

"My tumour measured four-and-a-half centimetres and was pressing on my brain stem.

"It had to be surgically removed as a matter of urgency.

"The only treatment option available to me was a radical approach known as translabyrinthine surgery.

"I was operated on by a fantastic, specialist team led by Philip Van Hille."

Nick says the support provided by BANA was invaluable, and he wanted to mark the 20th anniversary of his ordeal by helping the charity.

"Diagnosis – often by MRI – can be a frightening experience and BANA is the only national UK charity dedicated to supporting people with acoustic neuroma," he said.

"At the tender age of just 26, when I still believed I was invincible, I was scared witless by my diagnosis and was desperate for information and support.

"BANA was in its infancy back then, but it was my only support outside of my wonderful surgeon and his team at Leeds General Infirmary.

"Thanks to them I have enjoyed two decades of good health, albeit with side effects."

Nick is among a group of more than 40 riders setting off from Bradford on April 5 and cycling to its twin city – Roubaix, in northern France.

He is self-funding his place.

The six-day ride is being organised by the Bradford Bulls Foundation and Choice4all.

"The challenge of riding to Roubaix gives me the chance to raise funds for BANA to support its work with other acoustic neuroma patients and their families," said Nick.

He has set-up an online fundraising page, at mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/nickmarston1, with a target of coining-in £1,000 for the charity.

BANA was formed in 1992 by a group of patients and their partners.

It offers mutual support and provides information to sufferers, as well as promoting research into the condition and its effects.

For more details, visit bana-uk.com.