Karen takes on walking challenge 2 years after diagnosis

Karen takes on walking challenge 2 years after diagnosis


Thu 19 May

Our supporter Karen and her husband Paul are getting ready for our North Yorkshire Coastal Ramble challenge in September!
Karen Roberts, from Wakefield, was diagnosed with a brain tumour almost two years ago, and in February 2021 she had an operation at Leeds General Infirmary. She suffered from a pulmonary embolism after being turned over from surgery and was left in a coma, which left her in hospital for three months.

In September Karen will be taking on a section of our North Yorkshire Coastal Ramble challenge, while her husband Paul will be tackling the full 21.5-mile route, aiming to raise as much money as possible for YBTC!

The walk will mark 22 months from Karen’s diagnosis, and 17 months following her operation.

Karen’s brain tumour was found in November 2020, after her family grew concerned about the migraines she had been having for twenty years and a GP referred her for an MRI.


 
The migraines were not actually connected to the tumour. “It was an incredibly lucky time to have the MRI, or my tumour would likely not have been found,” Karen said. “No one could quite believe I was walking around with this very large tumour in my head.”
 
Karen was referred to Leeds General Infirmary in early January 2021, where surgeon Ryan Mathew told her the tumour needed operating on immediately.
 
“I was asked if I wanted time to think about it, but I said no, we just have to get on with it. I went into hospital on 8th February for the embolisation. I said goodbye to my husband Paul and two daughters Amy and Holly at the entrance to LGI, and I don’t remember anything else until sometime after 24th February when I started to wake up from the coma.”
 
The surgery, which lasted around 15 hours, went as well as could be hoped and removed over 50% of the tumour. However, as she was being turned over from the surgery, Karen suffered a pulmonary embolism leading to a heart attack. Karen’s heart stopped beating for 15 minutes and she was left in a coma.
 
Karen said: “The next few weeks were the nightmare you would expect” for her family and friends. “This had not happened to Ryan in all of his 20 years in neurology and all of the team saved my life in different ways.”


 
After around two weeks, Karen came around. “I was on a ventilator and had a tracheotomy so couldn’t speak, eat or drink. It was during Covid so no visitors were allowed. A few video calls were kindly arranged between Dr Paul Murphy and the Ward Team so I could see my family.” Eventually, a few visits to the hospital grounds were arranged.
 
Karen had severe chest infections which delayed her physiotherapy, but eventually she started getting up in her chair and began physio. “I was so determined to get out of bed, however much pain I was in,” Karen said.
 
Karen was in hospital for just under three months in total, and surprised her family by asking to come home instead of being sent to rehab.
 
Karen’s husband Paul and their friends configured the downstairs office into a bedroom. “I can’t describe the feeling when I came in through the front door to my wonderful family. Two days later I started walking without my walker, then ventured outside the front door, and I haven’t looked back since.”
 
Karen is now registered as partially sighted and has lost her peripheral vision in both eyes to the left. She also deals with mobility issues and has physiotherapy.
 
She said “I found counselling through YBTC really helpful to come to terms with things, mainly not being able to drive anymore. It was a chance to talk openly about how we felt in a way you don’t always want to say to people you love for fear of upsetting them.”
 
Not wanting to let her mobility difficulties stop her, in September Karen has decided to take on our North Yorkshire Coastal Ramble challenge alongside Paul.
 
To support Karen’s fundraising efforts, please go to http://www.justgiving.com/karen-Roberts89
 
Walkers of all ages and abilities are welcome to join Karen for the walking challenge on 10th September, and can choose to take part in the whole trek from Scarborough to Whitby or just a section of the route. To find out more, go to yorksbtc.org.uk/ramble
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