Doctors assumed my 4ft 11in daughter was just short for her age – actually she had a tumour lurking in her brain that stunted her growth
- Faith O’Toole lost sight in her left eye after a grueling nine hour surgery
- The rare tumour grown through her optic nerve and around her pituitary gland
A girl assumed to just be ‘short for her age’ was discovered to have a brain tumour that stunted her growth.
Jane O’Toole took 4ft 11in Faith to the GP after she noticed her daughter was much shorter than her friends. But the 13-year-old, of Preston, was turned away and told she needed time to grow.
When Faith’s height hadn’t changed a year later, Jane went back and the teenager was referred for further asessments.
A blood test flagged something was not quite right with Faith, so she was referred for an MRI scan.
Faith was eventually diagnosed with craniopharyngioma — a rare non-cancerous brain tumour.
Doctors thought Faith O’Toole was just short for age but the teenager found out she had a rare brain tumour. After a nine hour surgery, the youngster was left left without sight in her left eye
Jane O’Toole took 4ft 11in Faith to the GP after she noticed her daughter was much shorter than her friends but the 13-year-old, of Preston, was turned away and told she needed time to grow
The tumour, thought to have been with her all her life, had grown through her optic nerve and around her pituitary gland — a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain that releases hormones controlling height.
Tumours that press on the pituitary gland can cause too little growth hormone to be released, which can lead to having a stunted height, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Faith needed a gruelling nine-hour surgery to have the tumour removed.
Jane, who is only 5ft 2in herself, said: ‘You never, ever think it’s going to happen to you. It’s amazing how it happens.
‘We’re lucky because we managed to get on top of it, but if we hadn’t, then she could have lost her sight completely.
‘Everything could have been a lot worse, but they think the tumour was there from the minute Faith was conceived.’
After checks and a bone scan revealed that Faith was showing signs of being a late developer in November 2022, she was referred to a specialist.
Three months later, an MRI scan flagged a tumour on her brain.
Faith had to wait another four months before she was finally taken into surgery as her original procedure a month earlier was cancelled.
Faith had to wait another four months before she was taken into surgery – her original procedure a month earlier was cancelled
Faith has now recovered from meningitis and is hospital recovering from her surgery
She woke up to no sight in her left eye.
‘It was absolutely horrendous’, Jane, 45, added.
‘After the surgery, they came to me and said they were worried she could be fully blind as the tumour has gone all the way through her optic nerve.
‘I remembered one thing that Faith said to me before the operation – ”I would rather be dead than be blind.”’
Faith was diagnosed with meningitis — an infection of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord — after a follow-up op.
Without urgent treatment, it an cause sepsis, a life-threatening complication, and permanent damage to the brain or nerves.
Jane said Faith has been ‘absolutely amazing’ and goes through everything ‘with a smile on her little face.’
She said: ‘Even the consultants are saying that she’s amazing and they can’t believe the challenges she’s faced.
‘She’s done it all with a smile on her little face and she’s never complained once.
‘I don’t know how she does it.’
Jane’s friends have now set up a GoFundMe page to support the family – she cannot work as a palliative nurse and needs to stay with Faith in the hospital.
Jane said: ‘I’m spending every single day and every single night with her.’
Less than 1 per cent of brain tumours are craniopharyngiomas, according to Cancer Research UK.
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