Christine's Story

Mon 26 October

40 years ago this week, Christine underwent surgery to remove her brain tumour.

Here she tells us her story...
Christine's Story

I was diagnosed with a Cerebella Astrocytoma Brain Tumour in the middle of October 1980.  I was 18 years old.

Christine aged 18
I had surgery at the Leeds General Infirmary to remove as much of the tumour as possible by the Neurosurgeon Mr Miles Gibson and his team.
Prior to been diagnosed, from about March of that year, I used to pass out frequently. These only lasted for a few seconds and only occurred when I was sitting down. I thought it was due to my age and the work as a short hand typist. I also started to go over on my ankles and wobble; I put this down to wearing high heeled shoes as was the fashion of the time.
I went on holiday to Scarborough in the July of that year and I felt unwell with headaches and feeling sick.
In early October 1980 I went to the GPs surgery suffering with sickness and severe headaches. I was diagnosed with food poisoning for a fortnight. Only be pushing from myself and my parents with the GP was I admitted to Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).
The week before I had my surgery I remember having a number of tests, but cannot remember if I had a CT scan.
I had the Tumour removed on 30th October 1980. I remember going down a long corridor from the old part of the hospital. A nurse came with me to the theatre and held my hand. I remember counting. The first person that I saw when I came round was my mum.
I missed the Christening of my niece on 2nd November. I was God Mother by proxy. I remember been taken to watch the fire works on bonfire night.
I was told that I was very lucky to be alive.
After surgery I went home for about a week. This was followed by going to Cookridge Hospital in Leeds from 1st December until 24th December 1980 to have radium therapy every day, for 20 days. I came home Friday tea-time to go back on the Sunday night to start treatment again. I was under the care of Mr Rothwell.
Whilst I was having the treatment I felt sick and tired.
I was put on a course of steroid tablets (Dexamethazone). I could not get off them and my dad had to cut them in half and in quarters. I finally took the last one on 13th March 1982 on the day of my best friends wedding.
In February 1981 I had Ventricular Peritoneal Shunt fitted at LGI. The first one lasted 28 years before corroding and getting infected. Since 2009, I have had 4 fitted, lasting from 15 months, 4 years, 4 days and 6 six years.
After my initial surgery, I was off work for 18 months before going back to work in April 1982 on a part time basis for 3 months. I then went back to full time work until December 1994.
When I was poorly I split from my boyfriend (Alan) of the time and we got back together in July 1982.
I have been married to Alan since March 1985.

Christine on her wedding day, March 1985
In 1989 I had to travel to London by bus to have an MRI scan as the LGI did not have an MRI scanner at the time.
In 1995 I gave birth to our daughter Rebecca who now works in the YBTC charity shop, No 31 in Headingley.
Over the years, until 2009, I have led a normal life. Taking my daughter to school, enjoying many family holidays in the UK and abroad. I have flown in a glider, hot air balloon, and a helicopter. I have climbed Ben Nevis and Snowdon.
I used to enjoy a drink and holidays abroad. But I cannot do these now due to my current health.
Talking about bad luck for my parents and family, my elder brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2013 and sadly passed away in May 2014.
Over the 40 years since I was first diagnosed, I have had the philosophy "to just have to get on with it."

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