Newport Afghanistan veteran fighting brain tumour for second time

LOVING FAMILY: Anthony Hard with his wife Nahella, daughter Regan, nine, and son Casey

BROTHERLY CHALLENGE: Anthony Hard, centre, with his brothers Tom, left and Mike

OVERSEAS SERVICE: Corporal Anthony Hard, an RAF aircraft engineer, pictured when stationed in Afghanistan

FUN IN THE SNOW: Anthony Hard with his baby son, Casey

TRAUMATIC BIRTH: Casey in hospital

First published in Gwent news South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

A NEWPORT man who battled a brain tumour last year is now facing the lifethreatening disease for a second time.

Anthony Hard, 33, was conscious when he underwent surgery to remove a golf ball-sized tumour last April, in a procedure called awake craniotomy, which means the patient is given only local anaesthetic during the operation.

Corporal Hard, an aircraft engineer in the Royal Air Force, was stationed in Afghanistan in 2011 when he first received the diagnosis.

“I started having seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy,” said Cpl Hard, 33, who lives with his wife Nahella, nine-year-old daughter Regan and son Casey, 14 months, in Coedkernew.

“I returned to the UK, to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire and went to hospital for a scan, where they told me I had a brain tumour.

“I was shocked that it was a tumour,” he said. “But you have just got to get on with it, you just deal with it. With my job you just deal with situations as they are put to you. I think it’s a character trait as well, I don’t let things get me down.”

However, Cpl Hard’s son, Casey, who featured in the Argus last year, was then found to have severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen and blood supply at birth.

“It was horrible,” he said. “He is amazing but he has got a lot of disabilities. He smiles and laughs but he can’t walk or talk.”

After the tumour was removed Cpl Hard had an MRI scan in December, which revealed that the disease has started to come back.

“It’s not fantastic,” he said.

“Next month I will have the surgery all over again followed by a six-week course of radiotherapy.

“I am a positive person but my surgeon told me it can knock you for six.

“But I would rather have it to hopefully make sure that it has gone.”

Cpl Hard was relocated to the RAF careers office in Cardiff, where a colleague has also had the disease and has been given the all-clear following radiotherapy, he said.

“At least there is someone you can talk to about it,” he said.

“The Air Force has been amazing to me, I can’t rate it highly enough.

“My friends and family have been great too and my wife has had a lot to deal with.

“We have got to be positive because otherwise you wouldn’t get up in the morning.”

Friends and family raise funds for son

FRIENDS and family are now trying to raise £5,000 to buy a special bed for Casey, who was severely brain-damaged at birth, by launching an online fundraising page.

Casey, now 14 months old, was born on November 9, 2011, at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport but a traumatic birth left him starved of oxygen and blood supply.

He has since been diagnosed with severe epilepsy, cortical visual impairment, cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia among other things, and needs specialist equipment to make him comfortable when he experiences spasms, seizures and cramp, explained his father, Anthony Hard.

“My local football team Villa Dino Christchurch has raised £4,000 for Casey as there is a lot of things the NHS don’t provide,” he said.

“We launched a Facebook page on Sunday and my brothers are taking part in the Tough Guy challenge in Wolverhampton at the weekend to raise money for the respite home Ty Hafan, who have been fantastic in supporting us.”

Tom Hard, Casey’s uncle, said the course features a 10km cross-country run and 5km of extreme obstacles including barbed wire and flaming bales of hay.

Mr Hard, 28, who will be taking part with 31-year-old brother Mike, told the Argus: “I have never done the Tough Guy challenge but I thought it would be a good opportunity to raise money for Ty Hafan.

“I’ve been up to visit my nephew there a few times and the facility is amazing.

“We have achieved our £500 target on our Just Giving page but we want to raise as much as possible.”

To view the Facebook page, visit www.facebook.com/caseybearscause and click Add Friend for more information.

Birth of baby son Casey ‘traumatic’

IN March last year Mrs Hard told the Argus she had been classed as ‘high risk’ during her previous pregnancy with her daughter, suffering from pre-eclampsia and giving birth by emergency Caesarean.

She asked to give birth to Casey by Caesarean section but says consultants and doctors opposed the procedure.

Casey’s natural birth at Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital was traumatic, said Mrs Hard.

He had tremors, a bigger right hand than left, and screamed constantly.

He was booked in for an MRI scan on January 18, which revealed the extent of the brain damage to Casey’s right cerebral hemisphere and left frontal lobe.

The couple placed a formal complaint with Aneurin Bevan Health Board in February last year and are currently pursuing legal action. A spokesman said he could not comment on legal action but said: “Our thoughts are with Casey and his family in relation to any difficulties they may be experiencing.

“The case has been fully investigated by the health board with advice from an independent expert in obstetrics and the findings have been shared with Casey’s family.”

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