In Hope Stories
Just 1% of the national research spend has been allocated to this devastating disease
Chantelle Perrault, of Hastings, East Sussex, was diagnosed with a grade 3 glioma type brain tumour after waking to seizures earlier this month. The 25-year-old has undergone private surgery, paid for in part using crowdfunding donations, and is currently waiting to start radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The recruitment company she had set up just a month before being struck ill is currently on hold.
Chantelle tells her story …
For six years I’d worked in recruitment in London but I left about a month before everything happened to start my own recruitment company with my dad. We were doing well, we’d done our first few placements of people and brought on quite a few clients.
“Team Player Recruitment was just starting to kick-off when we were forced to put it on hold because of my treatment.”
I’d previously suffered from migraines, but not for at least three years. Then, earlier this month I went out to celebrate putting a deposit on an office building and woke up around 3am. For a couple of weeks before, I’d had this weird twitch in my left leg, which I’d attributed to having my first session with a personal trainer. When I woke up, that twitch turned into a full leg jerk.
“I shouted out for my dad, then had a fit and fell unconscious for several minutes.”
I went to The Conquest Hospital, in Hastings, but was sent home without having any scans. I was told someone from the fit clinic would contact me within a few days. I thought maybe it was related to having alcohol the night before but then two days later it happened again. I woke up with a leg jerk at 6am and had another full seizure.
“I went back to the hospital but, again, was sent home without having any scans.”
This is when I decided to reach out for medical help privately using money from savings. My dad scoured the internet for available neurosurgeons and, after making lots of calls, found Dr David Choluj, medical director and lead consultant neurologist at The London Neurology Clinic. Following a video consultation, Dr Choluj put me on the anti-seizure drug Keppra and referred me for an MRI scan the following day, which is how I found out about the mass on my brain.
“It took more than two weeks for the fit clinic to contact me, by which time I’d already had my surgery booked for almost a week.
Mr Ranj Bhangoo and Mr Francesco Vergani operated on me for about three hours at The London Clinic, in Harley Street, and it went really well. They fully removed all the visible parts of my tumour but want me to do radiotherapy and chemotherapy this summer to get rid of remaining cells and, hopefully, prevent it from returning in the future.
I’ve just received the results of my initial pathology, which identify my tumour as a type of glioma, grade 3. It appears we got it just in time too because it was right next to my brain’s motor stem, which controls movement.
“I’m pretty sure that, left much longer, it would have spread to inoperable parts of my brain at which point my treatment options would have been limited.”
I’m so grateful for the private treatment I had, which I afforded, in part, using money donated to a GoFundMe page I set up. I’ve spent at least £15,000 of personal savings, but the £30,000 I crowdfunded helped cover my surgery, which cost more than £29,000, with a further £5,000 for the surgeons’ fees. The MRI scan I had was £1,200 and there were additional costs for other scans and follow-up consultations.
“I had many former colleagues donate and it was amazing to witness everyone’s generosity in my time of need.”
I honestly didn’t expect it. I’m so grateful to my former employers Steve Mcbride and Adam Matthews, from Discover International, which recruits into the life science industry, and Daniel Smart, of Proclinical/The Green Company, both of whom made £10,000 donations to ensure my surgery was able to go ahead.
I’m also thankful for my dad, who has left his job to look after me, and The Apprentice series eight winner Ricky Martin, a client of mine who helped me in the early days of setting up my business and made sure, ultimately, that I had some savings outside of the GoFundMe page.
There were also those who didn’t donate but were able to share my page to help raise awareness and that also helped massively. I’m leaving the page open for now because I’m going to be off work for a while more, and anything donated will help me with bills until I’m able to finish treatment. Those who wish to donate can do so at: www.gofundme.com/f/life-saving-brain-tumour-operation.
This experience has taught me a lot and I was shocked to learn that brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and young people under the age of 40, yet they have received just 1% of the national spend on cancer research since records began in 2002. As something that’s affecting more and more people, it’s something that clearly needs more research and that’s why I’ve signed the Brain Tumour Research petition to increase research funding.
“I’d encourage everyone else to do the same.”
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.
Together we will find a cure.