“Embarking on my degree at Plymouth should have been the beginning of an
exciting new chapter for me, but my mum had just been diagnosed with lung
cancer. Then, in January 2010, I started having severe headaches, which GPs
thought were migraines.
As the headaches became worse, I saw a total of 11 medical professionals,
including GPs, A&E doctors and opticians, who diagnosed me with a variety of
things, such as sinus problems.
After a long wait and fed up with no-one taking me seriously, I rang
Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and begged for help. I was given an emergency MRI
scan that revealed I had a brain tumour. Straight away I had an operation to
insert a shunt into my brain to drain the fluid which had been causing the
pressure and excruciating pain. Then came a seven-and-a-half-hour craniotomy to
remove the tumour.
The news that it was cancerous – a grade 4 medulloblastoma – was
devastating, and I was shocked to learn that without the surgery at that time, I
would have died.
To give me the best chance of beating the cancer, I immediately underwent
six bouts of chemotherapy – one cycle every two weeks, followed by radiotherapy
twice a day for five weeks and then a year of maintenance chemo. The chemo made
me feel very anxious and it was tough losing my hair. I also had to miss the
whole second term of my studies, so I don’t know what I’d have done without the
love and support of my family and friends.
It was during the chemo and radiotherapy that my dear mum passed away.
This was such an awful time, particularly as my illness had robbed me of the
chance to spend much time with her. After she died, my health deteriorated,
although thankfully I did make it to her funeral.
It was just a couple of months later that things finally looked up and a
scan showed no trace of the tumour. I was elated, and all my subsequent scans
have been clear. I was able to complete my studies, and was really proud to
graduate in 2013.
Since my diagnosis I’ve met many people with brain tumours who’ve sadly
since died or had awful side effects, such as loss of mobility and blindness,
and I realise just how fortunate I have been. This is why I am supporting Brain
Tumour Research. It’s brilliant that the charity is working in partnership with
my own University and I want to help them raise awareness and the funds so
urgently needed for further research. I want everyone to get behind this because
research is the key, and it needs to happen now.”