When Jenni Richmond woke up with an egg-shaped bump on her head, she immediately began to regret the extra glass of wine she had downed the previous night.
The mother-of-one had been enjoying a sunny afternoon drinking with her friends before popping in to her neighbour’s party for a few more.
But as the then 45-year-old customer analyst was crossing the street to return to her home in Chertsey, Surrey, she tripped and hit her head on the pavement.
Jenni put it on top of the wine, brushed herself off and embarrassingly rushed inside, hoping she had escaped without anyone seeing.
“I really didn’t want to go to the hospital because it was late, so I went to bed feeling sorry for myself,” she recalls.
It was only when a huge bump appeared on her head the next morning that her husband Dave insisted she have it checked out.
Jenni says: “He insisted that I go to a doctor and check that it wasn’t a concussion.
“I just thought I had a little one Male cata bit of a headache, and other than the big bump on my head, it wasn’t anything too serious.
“In fact, I first took my daughter to a party and then went to the emergency room at St. Peter’s Hospital – mainly to keep my husband happy.
“But as it turns out, I’m so glad I did.”
Doctors sent Jenni for a precautionary CT scan and discovered a lump in her brain that was later confirmed to be of minor importance meningioma.
“It was a total shock. I had absolutely no idea – I had no known symptoms,” she says.
Jenni was referred to St George’s Hospital in south London after being diagnosed in 2015 and placed on a watch-and-wait treatment programme.
The localization of the tumor would have made an operation more difficult at the time, and radiotherapy was not considered to be risky at the time.
For the next five years, Jenni, who is now 52 years old, had annual exams to check for changes in the tumor.
During the July 2020 pandemic, Jenni was referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital for possible radiation therapy.
However, the neurology team there felt surgery was the best option.
But due to the pandemic, Jenni’s surgery has been canceled twice.
The first was the night before she was due to have surgery due to an emergency, while the second was canceled due to a lack of available ICU beds – although Jenni was already in hospital.
This caused her surgery to be delayed another five weeks.
Jenni and her family have also had to self-isolate twice, which meant homeschooling their 11-year-old daughter Iona.
Jenni said: “I wasn’t under any pressure to have surgery but we all thought it was the right thing to do at the time.
“My surgeon was brilliant and so relaxed which helped me not to stress.”
“Self-isolation was difficult. I had to try to keep everything going at home and not spend too much time thinking about what was going to happen to me,” she says.
“WORST CASE SCENARIOS”
“The doctors couldn’t tell me how I felt afterwards – only the worst-case scenarios – but I didn’t want to know all the details.
“But after my operation I was fine.
“After a short stay in the intensive care unit and a standard ward, I was back home in a few days.
“I felt quite rushed knowing the medical teams were dying to get me out because of the pandemic.
“But I felt quite vulnerable after just having brain surgery and then being home so quickly.
“I think I would have been happier if I had just one more night in the hospital.
“I had a degree of choice in my treatment options, but I think there was some hesitation as to what the best treatment option was for me.
“I would have preferred that they just said what to do and that they just moved on.”
The surgery successfully removed the entire tumor – which the medical team believes had been growing for a number of years – even before Jenni’s fall in 2015.
She recovered well and quickly from her operation and was even able to go climbing in the Lake District a few weeks later.
The downside was that she couldn’t drive, but Jenni hopes to get her driver’s license back in January.
And in the meantime, she’s making the most of not having to be the designated driver on evenings.
Jenni now has to have annual scans to monitor her brain for signs of a recurrence, but the last time, in October, it was clear.
She says she feels fortunate that her tumor was discovered by accident before it impacted her overall health.
Jenni says: “I often wonder if, when or how I would have found out about the tumor if I hadn’t fallen.
“I don’t know if I had any real symptoms – there were times I felt tired or had a headache or couldn’t remember something, but it wasn’t significant and that’s what happens to so many of us.
“I was lucky that the tumor was discovered by accident.
“Maybe it would have been a different story for me if it hadn’t been discovered until I had symptoms.
“In fact, I felt a bit like a scammer. I had brain surgery but I wasn’t uncomfortable with it. Apart from the scabs on my head I felt fine.”
What is a meningioma brain tumor?
A meningioma (pronounced men-in-gee-oh-ma) is a tumor that grows in the three membranes just inside the skull called the meninges.
The function of these membranes is to cover and protect the brain and spinal cord.
Meningiomas can be grade 1, 2, or 3, but there are no grade 4 meningiomas.
They are usually:
- low-grade tumors
- slow growing
- dissemination unlikely
However, some types of meningiomas do not behave as expected and can grow faster than others.
What are the symptoms of a meningioma?
Meningiomas can often exist in the brain for years without causing any symptoms.
Symptoms usually begin gradually as they gently push and compress the brain tissue instead of penetrating it.
As with other brain tumors, symptoms depend on which part of the brain is affected.
How are meningiomas treated?
Meningiomas are usually treated according to their grade, but their location, size, and the symptoms you have also affect what treatment you’re offered.
People diagnosed with Grade 1 meningioma are often placed on active surveillance treatment, with surgery and radiation therapy offered at a later date if needed.
Grade 2 and 3 meningiomas usually require surgery and then radiation.
Source: The Brain Cancer Charity
Jenni was told about it The Brain Cancer Charity from her medical team, but she said it would benefit her and other people if the services were labeled right at the start.
She adds: “I wasn’t told anything about the organization when I was diagnosed, which may have helped answer any questions we had at the time.
“It was difficult to keep everything going for my family and the expert advice could have helped.
“My daughter was so young when I was diagnosed and she thought I was dying.
“Understandably, she was very scared and I felt very guilty.
“Thankfully she’s doing great now – we’re both excited to get back to our normal routines and do the simple things like the school run.”
Jenni is sharing her story in support of The Brain Tumor Charity as part of Brain Tumor Awareness Month this month.
Alex Lochrane, Chief Executive of The Brain Tumor Charity said: “This Brain Tumor Awareness Month is a truly important opportunity to highlight the need for advances in brain cancer and that we all stand together to end the devastation they cause.
“We are so grateful to Jenni for sharing her story to raise awareness about the disease.
“Like her, many parents find it difficult to know what to say to their children when they have been diagnosed with brain cancer, or how to deal with their fears.
“Our children and families team provide specialized support and we have a range of animations aimed at children to help them understand a parent’s diagnosis and treatment in an age-appropriate manner.
“While Jenni had no significant symptoms prior to her diagnosis, for others common brain cancer symptoms can include headaches, nausea and changes in vision or cognition.
“Brain tumors are relatively rare, but it’s important to recognize the possible signs and if symptoms persist or you have multiple of them, we recommend that you see your GP.”
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8586122/thought-i-was-drunk-but-had-a-brain-tumour/ I thought I was just drunk when I passed out at night