Mum, 49, diagnosed with ‘ticking time bomb’ brain tumour after kayaking trip

Brain tumour: Cancer Research UK on 'different types' in 2017

Tara Simpson, 49, was diagnosed with a “ticking time bomb” inoperable brain tumour, which she dubbed Voldemort.

The mum-of-three received the gloomy diagnosis after a kayaking trip with friends, when she was aged 36.

During the holiday, Tara was struck with a seizure, which is considered one of the tell-tale signs of brain tumours.

According to Cancer Research UK, other symptoms to spot include headaches, feeling or being sick, drowsiness or loss of consciousness, personality and behaviour changes, and problems with eyes.

The former psychiatric nurse was told her brain tumour was glioma, but doctors did not know what kind, or grade because the culprit was too close to the motor skills area of her brain to do a biopsy.

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Gliomas describe brain tumours that start in glial cells, which are the supporting cells of the brain and the spinal cord.

There are different types of gliomas, with the most common one being known as astrocytoma.

Tara, from St Austell, Cornwall, said: “Now my family and I call it Voldemort, as in he-who-must-not-be-named.”

Because of the position, surgery is sadly not an option for the mum, prompting doctors at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth to adopt a “wait and watch” approach.

Tara was also advised that it would take anywhere between two and 12 years for the mass to begin to grow – at which point radiotherapy and chemotherapy would be the first port of call.

She said: “I’m very aware those 12 years are up now, and I’ve got a ticking time bomb in my head which could start growing any day.

“The threat of it is always there, I have daily reminders of it because I still suffer seizures, despite the medication I’m on.

“I know it’s a battle I’m going to have to face at some point, but I’m such a happy-go-lucky person that I prefer not to dwell on the what ifs.

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“I’d rather joke about it and take each day as it comes.”

Unfortunately, Tara can no longer work or drive because of the debilitating seizures, which cause her limbs and face to twist and contort.

The 49-year-old said the loss of her independence has been one of the most difficult things.

But the mum added that the loss of her youngest son, Ethan, who “was always smiling, despite his problems”, inspires her to stay positive and keep going.

Now Tara’s sister, Yvette Clark, 58, is raising funds for Brain Tumour Research by taking on the Jog 26 Miles in May Challenge.

The self-employed painter and decorator from Launceston, Cornwall, said: “I’ve never been a runner, even at school I’d find ways to get out of it.

“But I got through Couch to 5K during COVID-19 and so doing a marathon over the course of a month seemed like a great challenge, and a way to support my sister and all the other people diagnosed with brain tumours.”

“This is such an important cause to me, and I think Tara is incredibly brave.

“Everyday she gets up, she’s happy, she has seizures but she gets over them, and the next day she does it all over again. She is such a strong character.”

You can donate to Yvette’s Facebook fundraiser:

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