Symptoms 'dismissed' till visit to A&E.
A young mum mistakenly prescribed painkillers for her brain tumour is sharing her story to raise awareness of the disease.
Just one month on from brain surgery, Kirsty Barton, 28, is opening up about her terrifying ordeal. Kirsty’s symptoms, which included headaches so severe that she could barely get out of bed, were initially misdiagnosed as viral meningitis, until a CT scan in May 2019 revealed a growth on her brain.
Kirsty, who works as a customer service assistant at Eastleigh Co-o, suffered side-effects after the operation to remove most of the tumour- these included sickness and a loss of sensation in her legs. Fortunately, she is now recovering well and is working with the Brain Tumour Research charity to raise awareness.
“It was frustrating that after suffering from intense headaches in April 2019, my symptoms were dismissed as viral meningitis and I was prescribed painkillers which didn’t help at all. I’d even joked to my mum that I might be living with a brain tumour but this didn’t seem to cross the consultants’ minds.
“Things came to a head when I started vomiting and my headaches became unbearable – I was dreadfully poorly. My dad took me to A&E at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, where a CT scan revealed a growth on my brain.
“The growth was located on my pineal gland and was blocking the flow of cerebral spinal fluid in my brain, so I was fitted with a permanent shunt which fortunately alleviated my dreadful headaches. A biopsy confirmed that I was living with a pineal gland brain tumour, which I’ve since discovered is low-grade.”
Kirsty, who lives with her husband Ash and their two children five-year-old Joey and Sophia, one, added:“Though the doctors were reluctant to operate, I started to suffer from double vision, so they decided surgery was necessary. This removed most of the tumour but there were some parts they had to leave, due to its close proximity to my brainstem.
“I felt awfully poorly after the procedure and was sick for three days. I also lost sensation in my legs and my face drooped to one side, so the doctors feared I’d had a stroke. Fortunately, I was prescribed steroid medication and soon felt much better.
“I will continue to have MRI scans but I’m feeling optimistic for the future. I am worried that the residual tumour will start growing but mostly I try to keep positive and stay upbeat. I’ve been signed-off work for several weeks and I can’t wait to get back into the role and in a routine again.”
According to Charity Brain Tumour Research, brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet have historically received just 1% of the national spend on cancer research.
Michael Thelwall, head of community fundraising at Brain Tumour Research, commented:
“We are very grateful for Kirsty’s support and thank her for helping us to raise awareness. Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers; we cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated Centres of Excellence in the UK, including its centre at the University of Portsmouth; it also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.
To donate to Brain Tumour Research go to https://www.braintumourresearch.org/donation/donate-now