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metro
Mum’s ‘epilepsy’ turns out to be brain tumour she had since childhood

Mum’s ‘epilepsy’ turns out to be brain tumour she had since childhood

metro - 1 month ago
Nicola Clark's ganglioglioma brain tumour was misdiagnosed as epilepsy
Doctors told Nicola Clark, 43, her brain tumour had likely been growing since childhood (Picture: SWNS)

A mother misdiagnosed with epilepsy has urged people to get symptoms checked after discovering she unwittingly lived with a brain tumour for decades.

Nicola Clark, 43, from Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, noticed she was suffering from seizures in 2011 when relatives pointed out she would sometimes zone out of conversations for several minutes at a time.

She was wrongly told she had epilepsy in 2013 after tests failed to find another cause but the seizures worsened over the years, from one every few months to at least two a week.

After collapsing in the road in 2018 she sought a second opinion from a brain specialist and was sent for an MRI scan, which revealed a golf ball-sized benign ganglioglioma.

Ganglioglioma is a rare tumour most commonly diagnosed in children which grows slowly near the base of the brain.

Nicola said: ‘The doctors thought I had been living with it since childhood and that it had grown slowly since then and even more since my symptoms began.

‘They think my seizures were getting worse because the tumour was growing.

‘Despite their best efforts, it just wasnt picked up on any test or scan.’

Nicola Clark (centre) with daughter Amelia (left) and her husband Matt (right). See SWNS story SWLEtumour; A woman who suffered debilitating seizures for seven years was discovered to have a brain tumour - which doctors believe could have been there since she was a CHILD. Nicola Clark, 43, was initially diagnosed with epilepsy, but when the seizures worsened she sought a second opinion and medics found a rare tumour most often found in children. She underwent tests for two years and scans missed the Grade 1 ganglioglioma, so she was treated for the condition after doctors failed to find anything else that could be causing them. Initially, she was having seizures once every few months, but they became so frequent that she was having at least two per week. She found herself in dangerous situations such as collapsing in the road and eventually sought a second opinion at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. It was only then that an MRI scan revealed a mass which was later confirmed to be a tumour the size of a golf ball and she had an operation to remove it. Nicola, an IT analyst, said:
Nicola with her daughter Amelia and husband Matt, whom she met in 2013 (Picture: SWNS)

As well as lapses in consciousness, Nicola, an IT analyst and mother-of-one, had also started experiencing fatigue but put it down to work and life stresses.

She added: ‘None of the tests I had at first picked up any abnormalities and I was diagnosed with epilepsy because they thought that was what was causing them.

‘The seizures had an impact on every part of my life. I couldnt drive for seven years, I had to give my drivers licence up because of them.

‘I just accepted it, but when they got worse, my mum and I did some research and I wondered if it could be something else.’

She felt relieved by the diagnosis but also scared by the prospect of brain surgery.

Yet Nicola returned to work six months after her operation in 2018 and even started learning Mandarin when her memory improved and her neuropsychologist jokingly suggested it. She is now studying for a BA in Humanities.

Nicola Clark with her daughter Amelia. See SWNS story SWLEtumour; A woman who suffered debilitating seizures for seven years was discovered to have a brain tumour - which doctors believe could have been there since she was a CHILD. Nicola Clark, 43, was initially diagnosed with epilepsy, but when the seizures worsened she sought a second opinion and medics found a rare tumour most often found in children. She underwent tests for two years and scans missed the Grade 1 ganglioglioma, so she was treated for the condition after doctors failed to find anything else that could be causing them. Initially, she was having seizures once every few months, but they became so frequent that she was having at least two per week. She found herself in dangerous situations such as collapsing in the road and eventually sought a second opinion at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. It was only then that an MRI scan revealed a mass which was later confirmed to be a tumour the size of a golf ball and she had an operation to remove it. Nicola, an IT analyst, said:
Nicola, pictured here with a younger Amelia, felt ‘relieved’ at the diagnosis (Picture: SWNS)

‘It gave me a challenge to see how my brain was functioning after the operation. I wanted to replace a negative with a positive and develop a new skill.

‘Studying has helped to take my mind off things. It hasnt been easy as I have had fatigue after my surgery so working and looking after Amelia is enough to tire me out.’

She now wants to raise awareness of the symptoms, adding: ‘When people started to ask me if I was OK, I would just make light of it and explain it away as if it was nothing to worry about.

‘Its not just the people who have seizures that are affected, people around them are indirectly affected too.

‘Brain tumours are often a hidden condition as are their side-effects, so people may think were just being lazy when we actually have debilitating fatigue.

‘If there is more awareness and support within society then we can talk more openly about this instead of people avoiding the subject or brushing it off when they feel unwell.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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