A mother’s brain tumour went undetected for up to a decade after she dismissed her symptoms as the stress of raising a young family.
Emily Corrigan, 32, battled extreme fatigue, dizziness and headaches for years.
The mother-of-four, of Milton Keynes, was rushed to hospital when her partner Stewart, 42, saw her having a seizure in July 2015.
Ms Corrigan was diagnosed with an astrocytoma tumour the size of an orange, which doctors believe had been growing for up to 10 years.
After undergoing surgery to remove the growth, things seemed to be looking up. However, a routine check-up in October last year revealed the mass had returned.
Ms Corrigan went under the knife again and endured 30 rounds of radiotherapy. She is on chemo to help her beat the disease.
Emily Corrigan’s brain tumour went undetected for up to a decade after she dismissed her extreme fatigue and headaches as the stress of raising a young family. She is pictured before
The mother-of-four (pictured before) was rushed to hospital when her partner Stewart saw her having a seizure in July 2015. Ms Corrigan is pictured with her other half, and her children (l-r) Francesca, Annabel, Sonny and Harvey at the twins’ christening several years ago
She was later diagnosed with an orange-sized tumour, measuring 4.2×4.5cm, which doctors surgically removed (stitches pictured). Although things were looking up for a while, a routine check-up in October last year revealed the mass had returned and needed removing again
Speaking of her symptoms, Ms Corrigan said: ‘I was getting terrible flashing pains in my head and was very tired.
‘I had four young children and just dismissed the symptoms to being busy running around after them.
‘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.
‘I’d be up early with my kids from the crack of dawn until late at night so I never thought anything of it.’
Ms Corrigan finally decided to see her GP over her headaches and fatigue in 2014.
‘I put on weight, and had no energy and felt lethargic all the time,’ she said.
With an MRI booked, she cancelled the scan after convincing herself 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,’ Ms Corrigan said.
She was later found having a seizure in the middle of the night, which led to her being diagnosed with a 4.2×4.5cm (1.6×1.7inch) brain tumour.
After being rushed to hospital, she was put in a medically-induced coma and had surgery to remove the growth, according to her GoFundMe page.
Doctors estimated the mass had been growing for between seven and 10 years.
Ms Corrigan (pictured before) thought she was just ‘busy running around after her children’
Stewart (pictured with Ms Corrigan) found her unconscious in the middle of the night
WHAT ARE ASTROCYTOMAS?
Astrocytomas are one of the most common forms of brain tumours, making up around a third of UK cases.
They grow from cells called astrocytes, which protect nerves and are vital for processing information.
There is nothing that people can do to prevent astrocytomas.
Their cause is unknown but may be genetic.
Astrocytomas are graded from 1-4 depending on how quickly they grow and how they respond to treatment.
Treatment depends on the grade, with 1-2 often involving surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible.
Radio or chemotherapy may be given to kill any remaining cancerous cells.
Grades 3-4 generally always require surgery, and radio and chemotherapy.
Around 40 per cent of people with a grade 2 astrocytoma live more than 10 years.
Approximately 27 per cent with grades three or above live five years or more.
Source: The Brain Tumour Charity
The operation was a success, with Ms Corrigan returning to her job as a school office secretary.
However, during a routine check-up at the end of last year, she was told her growth had returned.
Three days before her second bout of surgery in January, Ms Corrigan had another seizure and was found lying on the floor of her bathroom by her eldest child Sonny.
The operation went ahead regardless, with Ms Corrigan also enduring 30 sessions of radiotherapy. She started chemo last month.
‘It’s been so hard and has taken such a huge toll on us all,’ she said.
‘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.
‘The kids have been great but it can be difficult at times when I explain to them what’s happening to me.’
Ms Corrigan is speaking out to warn others not to dismiss extreme fatigue.
Her friends are fundraising £2,000 ($2,418) to help her make ends meet while she recovers. Donate here.
Ms Corrigan underwent her second bout of brain surgery last year, as well as 30 rounds of radiotherapy. She is pictured with her children Sonny (behind) and Harvey
Ms Corrigan is pictured with Francesca and Annabel a week before her second surgery