Brain tumour: Cancer Research UK on 'different types' in 2017
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“The optician and GP said she was fine,” Rob recalled, yet the Welshman knew things weren’t right. When Lacey-Mae started screaming in pain, he and his partner, Donna, rushed her off to A&E in Cardiff. “They said that had I not brought her in when I did, she would not have survived the next day,” Rob shared.
Lacey-Mae was diagnosed with a brain tumour called pilocytic astrocytoma, which required urgent surgery.
“When she was first diagnosed it was hard, because we didn’t expect it at all, it was a blur,” said Rob.
“That first moment of diagnosis is like you’ve been hit by a freight train – we didn’t expect anything that serious.
“It was a whirlwind. We took her in and within a couple of hours she was on an operating table in a hospital ward.”
Young Lacey-Mae had surgery to drain the excess fluid that had built up around the skull.
Horrifyingly, Lacey-Mae then suffered from a stroke that impacted the left side of her body, leaving her unable to see properly.
Hospitalised for over four months to aid recovery, Lacey-Mae’s mum had a hard time coping with it all.
“It was such a blur,” she said. “We just try and concentrate on each day and to deal with any news we receive as best we can.”
Over the past six years, her daughter has undergone three courses of chemotherapy, with her current stint due to end in May 2023.
“In many ways she hasn’t had a normal childhood, because she’s missed out on an awful lot, especially at the start,” Donna said.
Rob added: “If [Lacey-Mae] wasn’t as determined and hard as nails, I don’t think me and Mum would have survived.”
Describing chemotherapy as a “waiting game”, Rob is anxious that the tumour may come back.
“There is always that chance it could go wrong,” he said. “It’s a ticking time bomb, as we just don’t know if she will reach full adulthood.”
He reflected: “It is what it is – we wouldn’t help her by mulling over it, so we try to stay positive for her.”
Turning his thoughts towards the positives, Rob shared: “Lacey really enjoys school, and even when she feels poorly, she loves learning.
“The school has been really great – they’ve supported her in learning braille and managing her mobility, with lots of support in other departments.”
Rob said little Lacey-Mae “loves learning Welsh, which she practises with all the Welsh speakers at the hospital in Cardiff”.
He confided: “She’s helped us through lots, she never sits and wallows.”
Rob confessed that he and Donna knew they had to pull themselves together “for her sake”.
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