Our support services helped Laura cope in the darkest of times and helped her celebrate life's little surprises.
After the news that suspected vertigo was actually a brain tumour, Laura had just days to decide if she wanted the future chance of being a mum.
“Although a lumbar puncture showed my spine was clear I was warned that the radiation and chemotherapy treatment that would follow my operation would damage my ovaries and so was given the option to harvest my eggs,” she says.
Following the egg harvest and her brain surgery, in which surgeons had hoped to remove 40% of the tumour but actually managed 95%, Laura underwent six weeks of daily radiation and chemotherapy, followed by chemotherapy that was supposed to last six months.
By the fifth month she’d had enough. “My body couldn’t take it anymore. I was having to have blood and platelet transfusions but the consultants were happy with my treatment and so it stopped.” It was November 2018.
Laura concentrated on recovering and assumed that the fatigue and nausea that followed was simply an impact of the treatment. But it didn’t get better. “I eventually said to my mum that my stomach was feeling tight and bloated too. She persuaded me to do a pregnancy test.”
The test was positive. The harvested eggs had remained untouched.
“It was an absolute miracle of a baby. It was Easter 2019 and I was 14 weeks pregnant. I’d missed the entire first trimester,” she laughs.
Her son Isaac was born October 2019 but there was another surprise in store. “I realised he had a birth mark on the back of his head and one at the bottom of his neck. It’s in the exact same place as my operation scar,” says Laura.
Today Isaac has given Laura, who is having three monthly scans, a new resolve to fight. “He’s helping with my physical recovery as I’m having to do so much but he’s also helping with my mental recovery too as I’ve got a reason to do everything that I can to stay well,” she says.
But the wide-ranging assistance she has found through Brain Tumour Support has been also been invaluable, especially as she looks nervously to the future.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, she was recommended Brain Tumour Support by her consultant and, after looking online, found her local support group and the Brain Tumour Support Facebook Forum, both of which she joined immediately. She says listening to others’ positive experiences has given her hope, while knowing that others truly understand what she is feeling has helped to keep her sane during her darkest days.
“Everyone has a different story to share but ultimately everyone feels the same. They’re scared. Others say to you that you look really well but it’s always there.”
“The first meeting my parents went with me which was great as they got to express how they were feeling. The meeting was really relaxed – with tea and great cakes – and it was lovely to hear how everyone was doing and to celebrate successes.”
Since the coronavirus lockdown, Laura has joined video chats organised by her support worker. She says the emotional support she has found thanks to the group meetings, the Facebook Forum, as well as her one-to-one contact with her support worker has been vital. “It really impacts your mood and mental health and knowing there are people that really understand that there can also be lasting damage is really important. It’s a special thing to be able to talk to others who have been through the same thing. It’s also a great place to air your frustrations and to vent. Similarly I know I can pick up the phone and text or call my support worker at any time.”
But Brain Tumour Support has helped with the practical side too, such as suggesting travel insurance providers, pointing her to financial support and helping with counselling. This has been especially important since Laura has also had to give up work. “I was a sign language interpreter but have been left with weakness on my left side so can’t do my job anymore. Everyone says you are doing well and will get back to normal but you have to accept that life has changed,” she says.
And she says that as well as helping her she’s finding strength in supporting others in similar situations too, through both the Facebook forum and the support group. “It’s like a chain reaction. They support you when you need it and then you can go on and support someone else. It’s great to have something really positive from something that’s so traumatic.”
Read more about how we help
Brain Tumour Support offers support to brain tumour patients and their families in a variety of ways - support groups, one-to-one, counselling, telephone and on-line support.
For more information call our Support Line on 01454 422701 or email firstname.lastname@example.org