A woman tells how she was diagnosed with a brain tumor after her symptoms were attributed to a migraine.
Natalie McKenna-Mounty, from Ramsgate in Kent, suffered a severe headache for three days in April 2020, just after the UK was plunged into its first Covid lockdown.
The 47-year-old visited her GP, who told her she had probably suffered a migraine.
However, he went to the hospital shortly after becoming unable to speak and with his mouth drooping, believing he had suffered a stroke.
Scans revealed he had glioblastoma, a fast-growing brain tumor.
Natalie McKenna-Mounty, 47, was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2020, after suffering what she thought was a stroke.
McKenna-Mounty said: “I had a bad headache for about three days and then I felt like I’d had a stroke.”
“I couldn’t speak and my jaw dropped.
‘They took me to the hospital, they did an examination and they diagnosed me with glioblastoma. As all this happened during lockdown, I was alone when I heard the news.’
After being diagnosed, sHe had surgery at King’s College Hospital in London, where 70 per cent of the tumor was removed.
Six weeks later, he began a six-week radiotherapy program followed by a six-month course of chemotherapy.
The tumor then remained stable for three years.
After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery to remove the tumor, it eventually grew back, and he is now exploring different clinical trials to help with his treatment.
WHAT IS A GLIOBLASTOMA?
Glioblastomas are the most common cancerous brain tumors in adults.
They are growing rapidly and are likely to spread.
The cause of glioblastomas is unknown, but it may be related to the sufferer’s genes if mutations result in cells growing uncontrollably and forming a tumor.
Treatment is usually surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, followed by a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy (chemoradiation).
It can be difficult to remove the entire growth, as glioblastomas have tendrils that extend to other regions of the brain. These are attacked by chemoradiation.
Glioblastomas are usually resistant to treatment, as they are usually made up of different types of cells. Therefore, the medication will kill some cells and not others.
The average survival time is between 12 and 18 months.
Source: Brain Tumor Charity
However, his health worsened in June 2023, when the tumor began to grow again.
She underwent surgery in August to remove her tumor, but surgeons were unable to remove it completely due to its awkward location.
Mrs. McKenna-Mounty is He is now considering joining a clinical trial in hopes of beating cancer.
Around 2,500 people are diagnosed with glioblastoma each year in the UK, while the figure is 12,000 in the US.
Headaches, seizures, nausea, drowsiness, vision problems and personality changes are key symptoms. These are caused by the tumor increasing pressure inside the skull as it grows.
Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the standard treatments.
There can be a life expectancy of only 12 to 18 months from diagnosis of glioblastoma and in many cases it returns, even after being treated, according to The Brain Tumor Charity.
McKenna-Mounty said the resurgence of her tumor has left her unable to work, drive or travel abroad as she quickly loses concentration and becomes tired.
“My life has changed dramatically,” he said.
Since her diagnosis, Ms McKenna-Mounty has needed constant support and finds social situations more difficult.
She said: ‘I find it difficult to do all the things I used to do, like go to places that were normal before my illness, like the cinema, the pub or the gym.
‘Some social situations seem difficult to me. I’ve lost my independence and now I have to accept help from other people.’
Mrs McKenna-Mounty (right) and her mother (left) have Carpe Diem tattooed on their wrists, to remind them to be positive and live life in the moment.
However, since the second surgery to remove his tumor, he has learned to “slow down” and take things easy.
She said: ‘I’ve had to teach myself to be aware of my body, how to cope with stress, to accept changes in my life and make them positive, not negative.
“I had to learn to slow down, to leave the past in the past and seize the day: Carpe Diem.”
Mrs. McKenna-Mounty said: ‘Brain tumor research is not as well funded as other cancers. Needs a higher profile.
“There needs to be more treatment options for people like me because there is no cure right now, so I’m making the most of every day.”
Dr Spencer Watson, Principal Investigator of The Brain Tumor Charity’s Junior Fellows grant, said: “A diagnosis of glioblastoma is the most devastating diagnosis and brain tumors are possibly the most difficult group of tumors to study and treat.”
‘This research offers us a new avenue to explore in the search for new and better treatments, and that is very exciting.
‘Knowing that scars caused by glioblastoma treatment can help tumor cells survive gives us a new direction to develop novel treatments.
‘Understanding the mechanisms and how to exploit them will take time, so we are also looking at ways to improve current treatments, as this will benefit people who need them more quickly.
“We are learning how to take the negative side effects of many effective cancer treatments and exploit them to improve the benefits people can receive from treating their brain tumors.”