“SARAH, YOU HAVE A BRAIN TUMOUR” is the most shocking thing I’ve ever been told.
It all started over a year ago when I started to suffer with bad dizzy spells. As anyone would, I got checked out at my GP’s but it was my optician who helped to save my life. Thinking the dizzy spells might be caused by an issue with my eyesight, I had a routine sight test and paid for the additional test they now offer. It was at this appointment that the optician advised a referral to hospital for more investigations. During this referral, in May 2022, a scan showed that I had a tumour on the right side of my brain.
The following month, I had surgery to remove 75% of the tumour but unfortunately, due to the location, it was deemed too dangerous to remove it fully. If the surgeon had removed the full tumour, I would have been at high risk of having a stroke or even death.
Being left with cells still attacking my brain, I went through 6 weeks of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy to try and zap those cells or keep them at bay! This therapy caused me to lose my hair and left me facing the fact that the tumour will likely continue to grow.
I honestly didn’t think that at just over 40 years old I’d be having this conversation.
It was a massive shock. I remember the first thing I said to my husband. I just wanted to live long enough to see my son grow up. He’s only 10 and has Autism; he needs me! Who else would look after him? In that moment I didn’t even think about me.
I’ve not always been comfortable with my body. I’ve tried doing Slimming World to lose weight but if I’m honest, I think it was more because society was telling me I needed to. Everyone you saw on TV, in movies or on social media was thin and beautiful. Naturally, I just wanted to be the same. But since becoming ill, my opinion on my body is completely different.
This journey hasn’t been easy. My life has changed in so many ways.
My health has suffered and I’ve lost my independence after having to surrender my driving license. My confidence took a tumble yet believe it or not, despite all of these changes I’m now better at saying how I feel and things have really been put in perspective. I can finally care about me!
I’m so grateful to be alive that I’ve now adopted a “Sod It” kind of attitude! I’ll enjoy my life, do the things I want to do, wear what I want (which I’ve always done btw!) and just enjoy my life whilst I’m still here!
Naturally, I have bad days where that attitude slacks a bit but for those who need me, like my husband and son, I will always try my best.
I can’t change what is happening to me and my health so I just have to get on with it and stop worrying about what other people think of me! Life is short, I’ve learned that.
When it comes to clothes, if I like it, I’ll wear it and without Topsy Curvy, my time off work would have been very different! Retail therapy has certainly helped! However, my bank balance isn’t happy.
If you find yourself in a similar position to me, don’t be afraid to cry and grieve. You don’t always have to be brave. You need to cry. Get it out. Talk things through when you’re ready. Dealing with the shock of a diagnosis like this is hard but focus on the good.
Be kind to yourself and look after you.
Some people can be negative about social media but luckily, I’ve found a really great support network via The Brain Tumour Charity community page on Facebook. It’s so nice to not feel alone and I have made some lovely friends who would not be part of my life if this hadn’t happened. Every cloud has a silver lining hey!
One man in the group was given a terminal diagnosis with 6 months to live. That was 18 years ago now and he’s still here, living life. He is my inspiration! If he has gained 18 more years then there’s hope for me too, I won’t give up.
I recently approached Topsy Curvy as I had an idea to raise awareness for brain tumours. Topsy love a good slogan so why not create a charity design to support The Brain Tumour Charity. It’s a no brainer! Bad taste I know, but laughter is the best medicine for me.
I chose this charity because they have shown me so much support throughout my illness. I’ve even been part of their podcast so I felt it was time to give something back. £5 from each sale of t-shirt will be donated to the charity. You can get yours here or you can donate to show your support here.
My journey is far from over, I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I’m living in the moment, taking things day by day and focusing on the things that matter to me.
For support and more information on brain tumours please visit The Brain Tumour Charity's Website and know that there is a supportive community waiting for you.
-Sarah, 42, Greater Manchester
Follow me here on Instagram @fatsassyandclassy