The tumour first started growing on Emily Corrigan’s brain 10 years ago, but she had no idea and assumed her fatigue, dizziness and headaches were the result of her busy life with four kids.
Emily, 32, only received the shock diagnosis after having a seizure when doctors discovered she had a brain tumour the size of an orange.
Since then, the school office secretary from Milton Keynes has undergone two brain surgeries in a bid to save her life.
“I was so tired all of the time and had terrible headaches and pains,” Emily says of her symptoms.
“I just ignored it because I knew I was tired and thought it was normal for a mum of young kids to feel like that.”
Doctors told Emily the tumour was probably present since she was about 18.
“Looking back now the signs were fairly obvious that something wasn’t right but I just dismissed it,” she said.
Though she’d been feeling tired for years, Emily finally saw a doctor a year before her diagnosis because she also developed crippling headaches.
“I was getting terrible flashing pains in my head and was very tired,” she said. “In hindsight there were definite signs. I was far more tired than most mum’s I know but time and time again I just put it down to being a busy mum.”
In the year or so before her diagnosis Emily said she completely slowed down.
“I put on weight and had no energy and felt lethargic all the time, but I convinced myself that nothing was wrong with me.”
Though she had an MRI booked to investigate the flashing pains in her head, Emily cancelled the appointment after convincing herself that she was wasting everyone’s time.
“If I’d gone then and had that MRI the tumour would have been found and something could have been done about it earlier,” she said.
Instead the first time Emily discovered she had an astrocytoma tumour was in July 2015, after suffering a seizure and being rushed to hospital by her partner, Stewart Wilson.
Emily was placed in a coma and her family were told that she had a cancerous brain tumour.
The 4.2cm by 4.5cm tumour was removed by surgeons but it returned in October 2018 meaning that the mum-of-four had to have more surgery.
“It’s been so hard and has taken such a huge toll on us all,” Emily says of her ordeal.
“I’ve been able to manage with the kids as best as I can but the surgery and treatment has taken any energy out of me.”
Emily has completed a 30 sessions of radiotherapy and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
She is speaking out about her story in order to warn others about the dangers of dismissing extreme fatigue.
Friends and family are now raising £2,000 on GoFundMe to help support Emily and her family financially.
According to The Brain Tumour Charity astrocytomas are the most common type of primary brain tumour within the group of brain tumours called gliomas.
“Primary means they have originated from the brain instead of spreading from elsewhere. About one third of all brain tumours diagnosed in the UK are astrocytomas,” the site explains.
“They grow from a type of cell in the brain called an astrocyte, which is the most abundant cell in the brain. They support and protect the neurons (nerves) and help to pass messages between them. Astrocytes, therefore, are vital in processing information in the brain.”