Debbie joins our Flat Cap Friday campaign

Debbie joins our Flat Cap Friday campaign


Mon 21 February

Debbie is raising awareness and encouraging people to get their eyes tested following her brain tumour diagnosis.
Our supporter Debbie Organ, from Wakefield, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2021 after suffering from headaches and low energy.

Her tumour was eventually diagnosed after a visit to the opticians, and she is now urging people to attend regular eye checkups.
 
She is helping to raise awareness by joining in our Flat Cap Friday campaign, which involves posting "flat cap selfies" to raise our charity's profile and draw attention to the need for more research.
 
Debbie told us her story:

“I lost my dad, aunt and a colleague early in 2021. In July I went on holiday and had a terrible headache and had no energy.
 
“I was due back to work on the Monday but phoned in sick thinking painkillers and rest would help. A week later I felt no better so telephoned the doctors. They said it was depression from losing my dad and prescribed antidepressants.”
 
Debbie didn’t take the tablets as she was convinced this was not the right diagnosis, and continued to chase the doctors for the next eight weeks.
 
“I was phoning weekly saying I had headaches, no energy, dizziness, ringing in my ear, a flickering eyelid. A nurse practitioner suggested it could be my eyes and to get them tested.”
 
Debbie went for an eye test at White Rose Optical in Wakefield. The optician was concerned about the pressure in Debbie’s eye and referred her to the hospital’s eye clinic. There, Debbie did several tests and was told she needed an urgent MRI.
 
“The following week, I went into the mobile scanner at Pinderfields Hospital with my husband waiting outside. A lovely nurse gave me an eye mask and some headphones, and spoke to me as she could tell I was scared.”
 
After the MRI, Debbie was told she had a brain tumour and needed to be transferred to Leeds General Infirmary for an urgent operation.

“I was shocked. It didn’t sink in. I came out and told my husband and was escorted to A&E, my head whirling. I called my mum and a few close friends and no one could believe it.”
 
Debbie’s husband was not allowed to stay with her at LGI due to Covid rules. Her operation was scheduled for the following day, but another urgent operation overran, so it was two days later when Debbie was taken down to theatre.
 
“Several hours later when I was pushed back to the ward, I can remember putting my thumbs up to my roommate in the hospital saying ‘I made it to the other side’. She supported me through the week as due to Covid restrictions there were no visitors.
 
“I rang my family and I was in tears, they were so relieved to hear my voice. After a few days I was allowed to come home to recover. My husband, mum and a few close friends were amazing and looked after me on the rollercoaster of the recovery journey.”
 
Debbie later found out that she had a low grade tumour known as a meningioma. The surgeon was confident he had removed all of the tumour during surgery.
 
Shortly after her diagnosis, Debbie was referred to Yorkshire’s Brain Tumour Charity by her specialist nurse. YBTC was able to give Debbie a grant to help with day-to-day costs, and has since been attending our Wakefield Drop-in CafĂ© and wellbeing walks for extra support.
 
Debbie and her husband Mark have even taken up a challenge to help YBTC raise funds; in September they will be tackling our North Yorkshire Coastal Ramble, a 21.5-mile hike from Scarborough to Whitby. You can donate to Debbie and Mark's fundraising page here.
 
Debbie's tumour will need to be monitored in future but she is determined to keep doing the things she enjoys.
 
“I might need radiotherapy in the future to stop the tumour from regrowing but I’m here to tell the tale. My tumour was highly receptive to progesterone so my contraceptive had been feeding it; I’ve now stopped taking it.
 
“All I can say is the NHS nurses and surgeons at LGI are amazing! I’d tell everyone, make sure you get your eyes tested regularly, it really can save your life. I will never forget my optician.”
 
To find out more about our campaign, go to yorksbtc.org.uk/Flat-Cap-Friday

Telling your story is a brilliant way to raise more awareness of what life is like as a person impacted by a brain tumour. It helps others to know the signs to look out for, and you might find it therapeutic to write your experiences down or talk them through. Would you like to share your story with YBTC? Please get in touch with alice@yorksbtc.org.uk

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