Mom who started smelling burning and other ‘strange’ odors after having just 12 months to live

Karen Rigby, of St Helens, was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma in November 2020, but the 60-year-old’s journey began way back in 2015, when she first felt symptoms

Karen Rigby of St Helens was diagnosed with a fast growing and aggressive brain tumor in November 2020
Karen Rigby of St Helens was diagnosed with a fast growing and aggressive brain tumor in November 2020

A mother who began smelling burning and other “strange smells” later received a devastating cancer diagnosis.

Years after the strange symptoms emerged, doctors discovered a fast-growing brain tumor and learned she had just 12 months to live.

Karen Rigby, of St Helens, was finally diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma in November 2020.

But the 60-year-old’s journey began way back in 2015, when she started experiencing symptoms, they reported LiverpoolEcho.

Daughter Lorraine Lea, 33, said her mother caught strange smells like “burning” that no one else in the room could smell.

The family said they were “not overly concerned” at first as Karen has suffered from migraines in the past and they attribute it to that.

Karen Rigby from St Helens with five of her grandchildren



Karen Rigby with her daughter Lorraine Lea



Another odd symptom the 60-year-old began suffering from was a sense of deja vu, where Karen thought she knew everyone.

Daughter Lorraine said: “It lasted for quite a while, probably about a year, and had strange symptoms.

“I think the strangest thing was that she got this deja vu feeling and thought she knew everyone.

“But it was hard to see that it was a symptom because my mum knows a lot of people because she’s such a friendly and outgoing person.

“She knows everyone and she has worked in different places where she has met a lot of people.

“So when she said things to us like, ‘Oh God, I know this person, but I don’t know why I know her,’ we would look at the person and be like, ‘I have no idea who this person is,’ but that It used to be normal for my mother because she knew a lot of people.

“Some of the symptoms got used to being passed off as random things and we didn’t think much of it at the time.”

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said Karen when she visited them doctors they dismissed it as menopause.

These experiences became more frequent and the Nan of Seven had episodes of “being empty” where she saw through people.

Lorraine said that this is when she began to worry about what her mother was experiencing.

Karen then had a grand mal seizure that caused her to bite her tongue in half and have constant seizures.

After tests and scans, doctors determined the mother of two had a brain tumor that wasn’t cancerous.

Surgeons removed the tumor and Karen went on with her life normally.

She was examined regularly over the next three years, but in November 2020 she received heartbreaking news.

Left to right: Lorraine Lea, Karen Rigby and Alex Rigby



Karen was diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma.

These brain tumors are aggressive and cancerous, and Karen said her oncologist told her she had only 12 months to live.

However, Karen has already beaten all odds and it has been 19 months since her glioblastoma diagnosis.

Lorraine said, “Her positivity throughout was absolutely amazing and she never complained or played victim or anything.”

Karen’s sister was also diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, and “that was an added trauma” for Karen.

Lorraine said the sisters are “both fighting cancer together.”

The 60-year-old was undergoing standard NHS treatment, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

But, unfortunately, the treatment did not stop the tumor from growing.

The family is now raising funds for alternative treatments to give Karen the “best chance” to fight brain cancer.

Lorraine said: “Unfortunately with this type of brain tumor it can change quickly.

“She’s doing really well now, but we don’t know for how much longer.

“So we’re trying to get ahead of it and do the treatment while she’s okay to see if we can slow her down or remove her altogether if we’re that lucky.”

Lorraine and her brother Alex have now set one up GoFundMe page hoping to raise funds for alternative treatment for her mother.

The sister and brother, who own their own businesses The Physio Lounge and AR Ceramics, also run a raffle and received donations from local businesses in Warrington and St Helens.

However, if the family is to reach the required level to pay for the treatment, they need more donations and ask if people are kind enough to donate raffle prizes. More information can be found here here.

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Continue reading Mom who started smelling burning and other 'strange' odors after having just 12 months to live

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