Weather Icon 4.8°C Clear
Oldham family backing charity campaign call
Saturday 27th January 2018 @ 21:07 by Nigel Skinner
News Oldham Town

An Oldham family are backing The Brain Tumour Charity’s HeadSmart symptom awareness campaign in an effort to drive down childhood brain tumour diagnosis times.

Connor Stubbs (pictured) was just 16 years old when he was diagnosed with a rare grade 4 pineblastoma brain tumour in December 2016.

But his mum Kay knows only too well the vital importance of recognising brain tumour symptoms.

She explained: “Connor at first began complaining of severe headaches for a couple of days.

“A couple of days later I noticed that Connor’s right eye was not moving at the same rate as his other and when we checked, his pupil was not reacting to light.

“The NHS 111 helpline advised us to go immediately to A&E where Connor was triaged and a nurse booked him in to see a consultant right away.

“A CT scan was taken straight away and two hours later, the results came back showing hydracephalous and a mass blocking his cerebrospinal fluid from flowing.

“So Connor underwent surgery for that on December 29 and then a test was done on his CSF and we were told they believed it was a benign childhood tumour.

“The specialist who dealt with this type of tumour deemed that a biopsy would still be required, so Connor then had yet another brain surgery to perform a biopsy on the tumour on January 6 last year. The results then came that the tumour was not what they thought and that it was in fact a very rare malignant grade IV tumour called a pineoblastoma.”

The news was devastating for the family.

Connor was booked for brain surgery immediately. The resultant surgery on January 26, 2017, to remove as much of the tumour as possible lasted for more than 12 hours, but surgeons were unable to remove it entirely.

In total Connor has had three brain surgeries and underwent six weeks of radiotherapy for five days each week. He then became an inpatient for four months whilst he had four rounds of chemotherapy and stem cells reintroduced into his body following each bout of chemotherapy, starting in May last year.

This incredibly brave teenager, now 17, has recovered well from his ordeal and is  looking forward to sitting his GCSEs this summer.

He was recently the face of the Christmas campaign for the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.

Kay said: “Early diagnosis is just so important. I would say to any parent, that if you have any worries, if you notice any strange eye movements, then don’t wait around.

“If it wasn’t for one brilliant nurse, Connor wouldn’t have been booked for a CT scan and his diagnosis could have been much worse.

“Everyone should know the symptoms of a brain tumour.”

Dr David Jenkinson, The Charity’s Chief Scientific Officer, said: “Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children in the UK.

“HeadSmart has two aims: to save lives and reduce long-term disability by bringing down childhood brain tumour diagnosis times.

“The campaign will help us to achieve that goal by alerting more healthcare professionals, parents and young people to the signs and symptoms of the disease.”

HeadSmart is run as a partnership between The Brain Tumour Charity, The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Professor David Walker, co-director of The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, said: “Since developing and launching HeadSmart, we have made real progress, halving the time it takes on average to diagnose a child with a brain tumour across the UK.

“The HeadSmart campaign uses new evidence, justifying a new approach to healthcare professionals, young people and parents of younger children.

“With this revised approach we aim to further accelerate the speed of diagnosis by helping doctors, young people and their families to work better together in selecting those who need a brain scan to diagnose or exclude a brain tumour.”

The HeadSmart campaign has managed to reduce the average diagnosis time from more than 13 to just 6.5 weeks.

It continues to campaign to increase awareness among GPs and healthcare professionals and to reduce these times even further.