Brain tumour: Cancer Research UK on 'different types' in 2017
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Cancer symptoms vary depending on the part of the body affected and acting on the warning signs can improve survival outcomes or prolong quality of life. A 11-year-old girl from Blackpool has shared the first warning sign of a brain tumour she experienced. A brain tumour is a growth of cells in the brain that multiplies in an abnormal, uncontrollable way.
Tegan Josie was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour after suffering a “strange episode” on her walk home from Brownies.
Tegan realised she was unable to see out of her left eye while walking home with her mum. Once they arrived, Tegan’s mum, Jane, did some tests before rushing her to the NHS walk-in centre.
A doctor did some tests and thought Tegan was suffering from migraines but Jane insisted her daughter was sent for an MRI scan immediately.
Having lost both her sister and her brother to glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumours in their thirties, Jane was not prepared to take any chances on Tegan. She was diagnosed with an inoperable low-grade prolactinoma aged 11.
Tegan, who is now 23-years-old, said to Lancs Live: “I suddenly realised that I couldn’t see out of my left eye. When we got home, Mum did some visual field tests on me and when she realised there was a problem with my vision, she took me to the NHS walk-in centre.”
She recalled: “Both my aunt and uncle had the genetic syndrome neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), meaning they were predisposed to develop multiple tumours in the brain, and Mum was worried that I may have had the same condition.”
After being sent to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, an MRI scan confirmed Tegan had a 3cm pituitary tumour pressing on her optic nerve.
Within a couple of days, she was in Manchester Children’s Hospital, where she would spend the next three months undergoing treatment.
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She was put on the dopamine agonist cabergoline, which worked to shrink the tumour and was told that had it been any bigger, she would’ve needed a craniotomy.
Tegan said: “Dodging surgery was a blessing but I still had a rough ride, which is why I had to stay in hospital for so long. I would get bad headaches and needed to be monitored with regular scans.
“My thyroid wasn’t responding well and I had excess fluid on my brain. My hospital stay came at a particularly difficult time for me academically. I was in year 6; my final year of primary. It meant that I missed out on a lot of the transition phase that prepares you for secondary school.”
In and out of hospital on crunches, Tegan had a tough time at secondary school, yet still managed to get GCSEs in all subjects apart from my maths – she had to miss her exam due to being in hospital.
Her health has continued to deteriorate over the years and basic daily activities can be a real struggle. She remains unable to stand for long periods of time and migraine attacks can throw her off small tasks, leaving her exhausted and shaken up.
Despite her setbacks, Tegan remains courageous, inspiring others to come forward by using her large social media following on platforms including Instagram, Twitter, Twitch and TikTok to help raise awareness of brain tumours.
Tegan is not alone. A case study provided by The Brain Tumour Charity also details the daily impact a brain tumour can have on a child’s life.
Noah Wiseman, who was seven-years-old at the time, had a headache when he and his family were on holiday in Norfolk for Halloween in 2019.
He didn’t usually have headaches so his mum Lucy gave him some children’s paracetamol and, thinking that maybe he was dehydrated, didn’t think anything else of it.
A couple of days later, Noah had another headache and, over the next three weeks, the headaches were increasingly regular and happening every couple of days.
Lucy took Noah to the GP who said she could find nothing wrong but that she would contact Addenbrookes Hospital for further advice.
Three weeks and a CT scan later, it was revealed that Noah had a mass on his brain which was later diagnosed as an ependymoma.
Ependymoma is a type of tumor that can form in the brain or spinal cord.
Other symptoms of a brain tumour include:
- Persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness
- Mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
- Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
- Vision or speech problems.
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