Living with a brain tumour - Macmillan Cancer Support

Author: Macmillan Cancer Support

My name is Tess Rallison. I'm 30 and I have a meningioma which is a type of benign brain tumour. When I was about six, they noticed that I was having vision problems in my left eye and they did a scan at the time but didn't find any reason for the vision problems. So it wasn't until I was about 20 and I'd lost the sight in my left eye by then that I saw a new doctor who just wanted to find out what exactly had caused it and so he arranged for me to have an MRI scan which came back saying that there was this meningioma which is the brain tumour. It was really frightening. The next step after the diagnosis was to go and see a neurologist and he sort of explained the scan results and the diagnosis and what it meant.

I think that was when it really hit me. It was such a huge shock. It was the last thing I'd expected them to say. I think my big fear was always that it would have some kind of effect on my personality which the neurologist really reassured me was unlikely to happen in my case. They didn't actually want to do any treatment straight away. The plan they had for me was called 'watch and wait' which means they were going to monitor me regularly, and every year I'd have MRI scans and then go and get the results. After doing the 'watch and wait' for a few years, I started to have episodes where I'd just sort of zone out a bit you know I'd be talking to somebody or I'd be at work and I'd just have a little minute or two of not quite feeling right.

And the neurologist said that would make sense because the tumour causes increased pressure on the brain which often causes epilepsy. When they first diagnosed me with epilepsy they started me on anti-epileptic medication, which for most people, it can control their epilepsy, but for me unfortunately it didn't really have any effect. As the meningioma grew, the seizures themselves got worse and worse so that I'd have them more frequently but I'd completely zone out.

I wouldn't be able to continue conversation or I wouldn't really know where I was. I did find it really frustrating. And it was also, it was really tiring. I was referred to a neurosurgeon and she said if you want we can do the surgery. It was quite nice knowing that we could actually do something about it. I mean I'm really lucky that the tumour I have is operable.

Living with a brain tumour - Macmillan Cancer Support

So I had the surgery last summer, just over a year ago. I did really really trust my surgeon. I'd built up a bit of a relationship with her during the appointments for a couple of years before, before we knew we were doing it. She was always really honest with me during my appointments. The surgery went really well. It was just such a huge relief. It sounds weird now to think how terrified I was then.

I remember vaguely coming round even from the anaesthetic and just knowing that I felt fine, you know, obviously I felt really groggy and it was a long time before I was properly with it but it was amazing. I've actually not had a single seizure since then. It's really changed my day-to-day life and it's really improved just my quality of life.

There's been such a huge change from then to now. Occasionally there's days where I think about it or where you know I think about the future and there is worry there occasionally, but when I need more treatment then I'll deal with it then. When I need my scans now I'm back to 'watch and wait'. I'm amazed actually how you can just get on with your life.

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