Young mum’s MS symptoms turned out to be incurable brain tumour – what to look out for

Will Mellor discusses his fear of having a brain tumour

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Natalie Cawsey, 35, was informed by a private specialist that the tumour might have been in her head for as long as 20 years. Undergoing surgery in August, the tumour was removed for her left frontal lobe at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. Natalie said: “I feel so lucky because there was a risk I might not be able to talk after the surgery so I was prepared to be quite different to the kids, and as soon as I was awake I was asking if my conversation was OK.”

Natalie’s symptoms first led her to believe it was multiple sclerosis.

It began with a head pain when coughing, progressing into pain in the legs and difficulty speaking clearly.

After raising the symptoms to her doctor several times over the years she was referred to neurology.

The already long wait times for neurology appointments have been strained further by the pandemic, with Natalie given an estimated wait of 56 weeks.

When informed of the waiting times for NHS neurology appointments, she opted to seek private treatment.

The private diagnosis cost £3,000, paid by her father, George Milne.

Her husband, Gareth, 35, was working offshore as a surveyor when the diagnosis came, returning to look after his wife and children through the treatment and recovery.

The removal of the tumour was carried out at an NHS hospital.

Natalie’s tumour, though removed, will never be fully gone.

She explained: “The growth comes from the nerve endings of the brain so they can remove as much as they can but you can never be in remission.”

Stage two oligodendrogliomas like Natalie’s are lifelong conditions that require continuous supervision to monitor their growth.

While incurable, they are not fatal if properly treated.

“I do think what might have happened if I had waited for the appointment on the NHS but it’s a difficult one to know.

“The appointment ended up being quicker than expected and I’m not sure with it being slow-growing if it would have made a difference.

“The NHS are doing the best they can but I’m concerned that on the diagnosis side, something might be missed.”

The family have committed to a 5K fundraising walk for Brain Tumour Research.

The initial goal of £200 has already been shattered ahead of the start date, having raised more than £1300 from 60 donors.

The three children are also taking part in the fundraiser.

Natalie said: “Just to make it a little fun for them we’re dressing as tigers ready to face our own battle.”

The GoFundMe page for the family can be found here.

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