Doncaster mum battles brain tumour

A Doncaster mum whose brain tumour surgery was delayed twice – once by a baby and the second time because of the coronavirus pandemic – is taking on a charity Walk of Hope to help find a cure for the disease.

By Kate Mason
Monday, 14th September 2020, 10:02 pm

Amy Mitchell, 34, will take on a 10km route around her home town of Doncaster along with husband Craig, their baby Darcy who will be one next month, and friends.

Their event on Saturday 26 September is part of the charity Brain Tumour Research’s annual Walks of Hope which are taking place virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amy was diagnosed with a large acoustic neuroma brain tumour the same week she discovered she was expecting her first child.

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Amy Mitchell and husband Craig with baby Darcy

Surgery to remove the tumour was delayed until after the arrival of baby Darcy last October and to give the family precious time to bond. The operation had been rescheduled for March this year but was delayed a second time because of the pandemic.

The 14-hour op finally went ahead at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, in May and Amy is recovering well while she waits to hear if she will need follow-up treatment.

Amy said: “Despite feeling battered and bruised having given birth by caesarean and then having brain surgery, I’m really looking forward to doing the walk. I am much steadier on my feet than I was before the operation and I want to help raise awareness of what patients like me are going through and to raise money to help find a cure.

“The surgery, which lasted for 14 hours, was successful and I think the hardest part was that virus restrictions meant I couldn’t have any visitors for the week I was in hospital. Thank goodness for video calls as at least I could see and talk to Darcy and Craig even when we couldn’t physically be together.

Amy Mitchell and husband Craig on their wedding day

“I’m deaf in my left ear but the problems I had been having with my balance are better; it’s was no longer as crucial for me to grip so hard on Darcy’s pram when I walk!

“I am now awaiting the results of an MRI scan I had in August to see what the next steps might be. It’s possible I will need radiotherapy. I want people to know that being diagnosed with a brain tumour isn’t all doom and gloom. We are trying to make the best of things.

"The things that have happened to me over the last two years have made me realise just how precious life is, nothing more so than the arrival of our beautiful daughter Darcy.”

Amy first started experiencing symptoms when she was on her honeymoon but originally passed them off as a cold.

Amy Mitchell with daughter Darcy

"During our honeymoon in Devon I felt as if I was coming down with a head cold, I just felt a bit foggy and had a pulsating noise in my ear. A relative had been suffering from a cold so it was an easy connection to make that I had caught something from her. However, when Craig and I got home to Doncaster I was still feeling unwell so I made a GP appointment.

"I was backwards and forwards to the doctor about three times and was told at first that I had an ear infection and given some drops. The fact that I was also having headaches seemed to be dismissed. I persisted though as I didn’t feel the diagnosis was right and was eventually given a test which showed my hearing was impaired and meant I might need a hearing aid – at the time I was just 32.

“From there I was referred to another consultant but, this time, tests showed my hearing was fine. It didn’t make any sense so I persisted in asking for further investigations and, eventually, I was referred for an MRI scan which took place just before Christmas. It had a follow-up letter but didn’t see anyone else until March 2019. Ironically, I was told I had a brain tumour the same week as we discovered we were expecting our first child.

“We were elated but at the same time anxious. As keen as I was to get to the bottom of whatever was causing problems with my hearing, headaches and issues with my balance, I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise the pregnancy.

Baby Darcy Mitchell

"Nothing could have prepared me for being told I had a large, albeit low-grade, acoustic neuroma which needed surgery. We agreed to wait until after the baby was born and, as much as we tried to enjoy that special time, there was always a grey cloud over our joy at the impending arrival."

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates.

Amy can be sponsored via www.justgiving.com/amy-mitchell8678