A mom whose daily seizures were dismissed as depression and panic attacks was horrified to discover she had a golf ball-sized cancerous brain tumour – after ploughing her car into a tree.
Lauren Neville (30) from Lancashire, UK, believes the crash in January this year, which completely wrote off her 10-year-old car, may have saved her life.
A brain tumour called a glioblastoma
The mental health nurse had suffered from headaches, tunnel vision and dizziness for two years and experienced around 70 seizures a week – but doctors put her symptoms down to depression.
But that fateful day while driving Lauren ploughed her car into a tree and completely forgot where she was after suffering from a seizure.
An MRI scan in May, after the crash, revealed the horrifying cause of all her seizures – a 6-cm brain tumour called a glioblastoma.
Glioblastoma, also known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is the most aggressive cancer that begins within the brain.
Lauren said she initially felt really frustrated and angry after her diagnosis.
She knew something wasn't right
“I was told I had emotional trauma and then depression and I kept going from diagnosis to diagnosis.
“It was only after the accident that I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. I don’t think I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for the accident. It was a blessing in disguise.
“I’d had symptoms for two years before I was diagnosed with the tumour.”
She had suffered from headaches, tunnel vision, dizziness, shaking, focal seizures and generally not feeling like herself. Deep down Lauren knew something wasn’t right but she was told by three doctors she was suffering from anxiety and prescribed antidepressants.
As a mental health professional the diagnosis didn’t sit well with Lauren but she said she was shocked to learn her seizures were caused by brain cancer.
An uncertain future
“I was completely devastated.
“I could only think of my kids as they are my first priority and my whole world, only them. It breaks my heart that I could die from this.”
The worried mom-of-two is now facing an uncertain future with her children, nine-year-old Lucy Dunn-Grimshaw and one-year-old Ollie Burns, and struggles with short-term memory loss.
On 8 June she underwent a gruelling six-hour operation to remove 80% of the mass at Preston Royal Hospital in Lancashire.
“Now I’m waiting for some more scans to find out what stage my cancer is at and what treatment I need to have next.
'I’ve got people to lean on'
“It’s most likely I’ll need further surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“My little boy, Ollie, is extremely sensitive at the moment and can’t look at me without crying.
“His fun mom who does everything for him day in, day out now can’t climb the stairs without getting out of breath all of a sudden.”
“Having the tumour is traumatic but my family are amazing. It’s nice that I’ve got people to lean on.
Tragically while fighting her own health battles, Lauren’s dad James has also been diagnosed with stage-three lung cancer as well as throat cancer.
Lauren and her family have set up a GoFundMe page to help raise £5 000 for their treatment.
“This has been very, very difficult.”
Now she’s recovering from the operation, Lauren hopes her story will raise awareness of the symptoms and encourage others to speak up earlier.
“It’s been very emotional and I’ve never felt so alone and frightened in my life.
“I decided I wanted to do something to help other people in this situation. I want to raise awareness of what I’ve been through in the hope it will encourage others to catch their tumour sooner.
“The support has been overwhelming. I don’t know what I’d have done without it – it’s made every day more bearable.”
Image credit: CATERS/WWW.MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA