Yaël's story

Diagnosed in 2020 with pilocytic astrocytoma 

One of the shocking facts about brain tumours is that they can affect anyone at any age, and they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other type of cancer.

We are grateful to Yaël who has shared her experience with us to raise awareness that symptoms should not be dismissed simply because you are young. This is her story:

“I am 22 years old and I had been having intense headaches for the past 3 years and going to doctors in the UK and France about it, only to be told “You’re young, just rest, it will go away.” When my eyesight started degrading I started worrying as I Googled symptoms of brain tumours (due to a gut feeling).  In May 2020 I enquired about whether my eyesight problems and headaches could be linked and I could be referred for a brain scan but was told “No.”

“Finally in December 2020 I went for an MRI. The results came back showing a 5cm mass in my brain pressing on my optic nerve and the neurosurgeon said I needed to be operated on within 3 weeks or I could go blind. I was operated on a week after my diagnosis and despite some complications, my tumour was found to be a benign pilocytic astrocytoma and I am recovering well.

“Recently, an old friend contacted me, 22 years old as well, to tell me that she had a very similar story where she has been having headaches for the past 4 years and doctors in Canada were constantly dismissing her as she was young. In November 2020 she was rushed to hospital because she had a blinding headache and couldn’t walk. She finally got a brain scan and was also operated a week after her diagnosis because it was that severe.

“There is a big problem with our stories and it is that our doctors (in various countries) correlated young with healthy. This is not always the case. This assumption meant that we had to live with pain for years and had to be operated in emergency to save our lives.

“I know brain tumours are rare and doctors cannot order a brain scan whenever someone has a headache, BUT, when someone, regardless of their age, tells a doctor that they have strong headaches every day and it’s lasted over a year... I think that should definitely be a reason to order a scan, even if that person is young!”

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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 support@braintumoursupport.co.uk 

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