Ongoing hearing problem that turned out to be a brain tumour

Toddington mum-of-two Liz Kirtley before underging Gamma Knife surgery for a benign brain tumour
Toddington mum-of-two Liz Kirtley before underging Gamma Knife surgery for a benign brain tumour

Toddington mum-of-two Liz Kirtle suffers from hearing loss, balance problems and tiredness – but she’s still determined to do the London Marathon in aid of Brain Research Trust.

Liz, of Peartree Close, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour last year, following years of increasingly bad hearing problems in her right ear.

She says: “The consultant told me I could have a rare type of brain tumour called an Acoustic Neuroma.

“I was sent for an MRI scan which showed one measuring just over 2cm.

“It wasn’t until it was confirmed that other symptoms, which I hadn’t initially connected, made sense - fatigue, facial tingling, lack of balance and a feeling that one side of my tongue was burnt or had ulcers on it.”

The 45-year-old was told she could have the tumour removed with brain surgery, which had many complications, or she could opt for Gamma Knife radiosurgery, which would stop the tumour growing but would not remove it.

She chose the latter, which could preserve her hearing a little longer.

“One of the hardest things is getting used to the new ‘normal.’” she confesses. “I have to accept that most of my symptoms will not improve.

“The tumour is on the balance nerve in the canal from the ear to the brain and can expand into the brain, as mine has, affecting hearing and facial nerves and causing one or more permanent physical and emotional effects.

“Keeping going – walking the dogs, running, being a mum – have helped my balance and to some extent make me fight the fatigue.

“Occasionally I have to give in and have a nap. But it’s not like normal tiredness, more a complete shut down.

“It’s also difficult explaining to people who know me that no, I’m not cured and that it will take about five years before the doctors know whether the Gamma Knife has stopped the tumour’s growth.

“However it’s not going to kill me. It’s not life ending, but it IS life changing. And I count myself one of the lucky ones – many brain conditions are killers and there is no cure.”

That’s why she’s raising money for the Brain Research Trust which supports world class research at UCL’s Institute of Neurology in London. It covers a huge range of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, migraine and stroke, as well as brain tumours.

“And pretty much on the anniversary of my diagnosis, I’ve begun my marathon training plan,” she smiles.

“I’ve set up a Facebook page so people can follow my progress – however slow and painful it might be.”

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