Diagnosed in 2020 with a pituitary tumour
Darren worked in the building trade and was very involved in local league football, the sport which is his passion.
He told us about the first signs that something was wrong and how his diagnosis has affected him:
I was working and a football referee at the time, so I was fit and active, but then I had a number of worrying symptoms -
I lost lots of weight without even trying, I had bad headaches, my balance went, and my eye sight went blurry. I felt fatigued and really cold all the time too, and my doctor had no explanation so referred me to an optician and then for a CT and MRI scan.
That’s how I found out, in January 2020, that I had a pituitary tumour.
After the diagnosis I then had lots of blood tests that showed that I was missing hormones, including testosterone and hydrocortisone, and I was put on drugs to correct this and had to wait for surgery.
My first operation was in June 2020 at Salford Royal – amazingly they went up my nose to get to the tumour.
I had to have a second operation in July 2021 and now most of the tumour has been removed, with daily medication and monitoring MRI scans every six months.
The impact on life
It’s made me appreciate life a lot more and that life is precious. Taking medication every day is a bit annoying but I am still here ain’t I! I do get tired very easy though and it’s affected the sight in my right eye - which has improved although not that much.
I think everyone worries about the financial stress that being ill can have, but lucky for me I have a fantastic fiancee Helen, and family that helped us out.
The shock of this happening to me upset a few people as you would imagine, but I think it affected my brother the most - we normally have a bit of brotherly banter but I could tell he was quite worried.
Support comes in all shapes and sizes
My family and close friends all rallied round me and I had my dogs, Rebel and Charlie, for cuddles - soft I know, but they really helped me through it.
I found out about Brain Tumour Support on Twitter and I just had a few exchanges of messages after I’d posted a photo from hospital. The fact you remembered me and asked if I was OK had me in tears. It was a massive help - just knowing if I really needed you I know you would be there.
Back in the game
I am a lot slower now but I still try and keep fit, and I am now thankfully back at work and refereeing again, which I love. I’m really proud that Offerton Park FC, the football team which I run on a Sunday, now has the Brain Tumour Support logo on the front of their shirts.
I just want the charity to keep doing what you do and help to raise awareness so that more people know about you. Together we are stronger.
Darren Bowden - March 2022
Darren was very fit and active before symptoms led to his diagnosis