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My doctor thought my pain was simply migraines— it was a brain tumor

Kirsty Connell, 39, went to her doctor after suffering terrible headaches and frequent feelings of déjà vu. She was diagnosed with a grade 2 oligodendroglioma.
Kirsty Connell, 39, went to her doctor after suffering terrible headaches and frequent feelings of déjà vu. She was diagnosed with a grade 2 oligodendroglioma.

A UK millennial mom of three says her “out-of-body experiences” turned out to be a brain tumor.

Kirsty Connell, 39, went to her doctor after suffering terrible headaches and frequent feelings of déjà vu — the sense of having lived through a situation before.

“[The doctor] referred me to a neurologist who thought I was having hormone-related migraines but sent me for an MRI scan as a precaution,” Connell explained to SWNS.

“When I got taken through to a family room, I knew something wasn’t right — and that’s where I was told they’d found a mass on my brain,” she added.

Connell, a teacher from Old Stratford, Northamptonshire, was diagnosed in October 2021 with a Grade 2 oligodendroglioma — a low-grade brain tumor that grows slowly.

Kirsty Connell, 39, went to her doctor after suffering terrible headaches and frequent feelings of déjà vu — the sense of having lived through a situation before. Brain Tumour Research / SWNS
Kirsty Connell, 39, went to her doctor after suffering terrible headaches and frequent feelings of déjà vu — the sense of having lived through a situation before. Brain Tumour Research / SWNS

Before she sought medical treatment, she could feel herself in other places — such as driving a car, cooking or waking up — while she was having a conversation with someone or standing in a store checkout line.

Connell said the feelings would last a few seconds at first before becoming more frequent and intense over time.

In November 2021, she underwent a craniotomy while awake to remove a section of bone.

“My first thought was there was no way I could be awake for surgery,” Connell recalled. “I’d had a mole removed previously, and that completely put me off, but I was really looked after.”

Connell, a teacher from Old Stratford, Northamptonshire, was diagnosed in October 2021 with a Grade 2 oligodendroglioma — a low-grade brain tumor that grows slowly. Brain Tumour Research / SWNS
Connell, a teacher from Old Stratford, Northamptonshire, was diagnosed in October 2021 with a Grade 2 oligodendroglioma — a low-grade brain tumor that grows slowly. Brain Tumour Research / SWNS

She added: “I feel really lucky because the surgeons were able to remove every visible trace of my tumor, and I know it could have been very different.”

Now, Connell is being monitored with scans every three months as part of a “watch and wait” protocol.

Her school held a Wear a Hat Day fundraiser Wednesday — a day before the official UK event — for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

Participants are asked to don their favorite headwear and donate to help find a cure for brain tumors.

“With one in three people knowing someone affected by a brain tumor, Kirsty’s story is sadly not unique,” said Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research.

“Brain tumors kill more women under 35 than breast cancer, more men under 70 than prostate cancer, and more children than leukemia,” Allsebrook continued. “We’re determined to change that, but we can’t do it alone. We’re really grateful to Kirsty and her colleagues and pupils at the Redway School for their support.”