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In Hope Stories

Just 1% of the national research spend has been allocated to this devastating disease

Carmen Barrett

Grandmother-of-five Carmen Barrett was diagnosed with a meningioma in September 2018 after collapsing at her home in Walthamstow, East London. The retired teaching assistant and mental health charity worker successfully shrunk her tumour using radiotherapy and is now being monitored with annual scans. She has been unable to walk since her collapse.

Carmen tells her story …

I live up the top of a hill and used to walk up there like it was nothing. Now I can’t walk more than a few steps and haven’t left my house in more than a year.

Everything changed for me in 2018. My son died in the May and then four months later I collapsed at home. I don’t remember anything about it, but my partner found me and called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived, they took me to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, where I ended up staying for a month. I couldn’t walk, and had been able to before, so they did tests to find out what was wrong with me. Eventually they did an MRI scan and that’s when they discovered a tumour on my brain.

“I was in shock when they told me what I had.”

My consultant said it was likely the tumour they’d found, a low-grade meningioma, had been there a long time. They don’t want to operate because I have a progressive lung disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“This makes surgery much riskier, so they’ll only operate as a last resort.”

The size of my tumour meant I wasn’t a suitable candidate for chemotherapy. Instead, I had radiotherapy at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in the City of London. I coped with it well and didn’t really suffer any adverse effects, although my memory hasn’t been the same since.

“Everyone forgets things from time to time but my memory is so bad that I can forget things after a minute or so.”

I’m now on a ‘watch and wait’ approach to see if my tumour grows and am being monitored with annual scans. Sadly, I’ve not been able to walk more than a few steps since my collapse in 2018 and spend my days in a hospital bed at home. I can no longer go outside and haven’t left my house in one and a half years. This is a stark comparison to my life before, when I juggled two jobs and often went shopping.

“I have five grandchildren and used to buy all their Christmas presents in person; now I have to buy everything online, which just isn’t the same.”

I support Brain Tumour Research because I don’t want others to go through what I have and believe that research is the only way forward.

Carmen Barrett
December 2022

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer... yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.

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Together we will find a cure