Since her diagnosis with a grade two oligodendroglioma, mum-of-two Charlotte Giddings has undergone three brain tumour operations and had part of her skull removed. She has had long periods when she was unable to drive and the business she ran with her husband has closed down. Despite this, she considers herself fortunate.
“In many ways I am lucky, my tumour is low-grade. I don’t want to sit around worrying about how long I’ve got left. We know that if the tumour does come back my only treatment options would be chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It seems ridiculous that brain tumours affect so many people yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.”
Charlotte tells her story …
We were enjoying a happy family life together, my husband Nick and our kids, Charlie who is 11, and Phoebe, eight. Nick and I were running a recruitment company together and things were going well. We were able to have holidays and meals out.
When I started to get headaches I went backwards and forwards to the doctor and it got to the stage where no-one could find anything wrong and I began to feel that Nick was sick of me complaining all the time. Things got so bad that I started to get freaked out in confined spaces and feel as if I was about to pass out. The only way I could cope was by carrying water everywhere I went. With no obvious medical reason for what was happening I sort of accepted that it must be something psychological.
Eventually I was referred for an MRI scan by a doctor who assured me that, by process of elimination, we would get to the bottom of things, starting with my head first. I went to a mobile scanning unit a Huddersfield. It was there that I was told they had found something and the next step was to drive to Leeds, I was crying in the car, freaking out, as we did so.
My diagnosis came quickly after that, in March 2015. I stopped driving straight away and asked if I could defer treatment until after we have the summer holiday. We just wanted to spend some time together with our kids Charlie who was seven and Phoebe, five. I underwent surgery to remove a grade in September and was back again May the following year because of an infection which saw me having a large part of my skull removed. I spent four months with a large dent in my head until, finally, a titanium plate was fitted.
I did my best to carry on with family life as normal but, in March 2017, I was back in hospital after a follow-up scan revealed the tumour was back. This time, the surgery left me with weakness down my left side. A whole year later, this March, I was finally able to drive once more.
Sadly, Nick and I had to close down the business after five years as it just wasn’t feasible to carry on. In many ways I am lucky, my tumour is low-grade. I don’t want to sit around worrying about how long I’ve got left. We know that if the tumour does come back my only treatment options would be chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It seems ridiculous that brain tumours affect so many people yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
We are determined to help raise awareness of this. We want to ensure no-one else goes through the heartache we have endured. For the last two years Nick and his friends have been getting together to walk the Trans Pennine Trial and have raised nearly £13,000 for the Brain Tumour Research charity.
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.
The views or opinions expressed within are not necessarily those of Brain Tumour Research. This content has been shared for information purposes only. Brain Tumour Research does not recommend or endorse any particular treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor or other suitably qualified medical professional. Our member charity brainstrust can provide additional information on treatment options.