From the blog...
I am Gemma, when I was 23 I started getting headaches. Not normal
headaches, more of a sensation behind my forehead and eyes. Like a feeling
of pressure that could not be relieved with pain relief.
After seeing a GP I was referred to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and an
MRI scan revealed an “abnormality” in my Brain Stem. This “abnormality” was
blocking the ventricles in my brain which meant that the Cerebro-Spinal Fluid
(CSF) could not move around my head properly and was building up,
resulting in a condition called Hydrocephalus. I had a relatively simple operation
to release the fluid and the symptoms improved.
Although the abnormality was still there I was sure this was a permanent fix. I
never thought of it as a Brain Tumour but had regular brain scans over the
following years to keep an eye it.
So, I got on with my life, moved to Surrey and trained to become a registered
nurse. Everything was going great. I was a good nurse and my future looked
promising. I was earning decent money for the first time in my life and
enjoyed going out with friends, going to gigs and festivals, eating out and
generally having fun. I was hoping to do some travelling and maybe spend
some time working in Australia before I turned 30, I felt like I had a really
In 2009, I moved back to Exeter and started working in the recovery
department at RD&E Hospital.
In October that year while I was at work. I was pulled to one side by a
colleague and told my mum had been brought in by ambulance. Convinced
she had had a prang in the car or something I headed down to the A&E. I was
taken into a room and told that my beloved mother had suffered a severe
cardiac arrest. She never regained consciousness and I never got to speak to
her again before she died.
The next 3 months were busy, planning her funeral and dealing with the living
arrangements for my 3 younger siblings. So I didn’t really think twice about
my upcoming routine scan.
Until I was called down to Derriford Hospital to see my surgeon. I didn’t think
anything he had to say could be anywhere near as bad as what I had just
been through. No one can be that unlucky right?
In a dark dingy room, I was told that my “Tumour” had become active and we needed to treat it now.
I can’t remember details of what he said to me that day but one thing sticks in
When I asked him “Doctor, will this kill me?”
His reply was “Do you want the truth?”