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Daniel's story

Tuesday 6 September 2016

"My name is Daniel Harris and this is my brain tumour story."

My story starts on a Saturday morning in November 2007 when I was 28. I awoke to discover that I had two black eyes and a rash covering my face and neck. I contacted NHS 24 who asked that I conduct the glass test and when the rash failed to vanish under the pressure of the glass I was advised to attend my local A&E department of the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Paisley right away out of concern that I may have had meningitis.

I was feeling fine and was certain I'd soon be home laughing about the whole situation and my sister snapped some pictures of my unusual appearance. I arrived at the hospital with my parents and was seen by a doctor who was not convinced it was meningitis as I was too well, but agreed the rash and black eyes warranted further investigation and as I was being taken for tests I suffered a seizure which turned my face completely purple. It later emerged this phenomenon is termed Seizure-Induced Periorbital Petechial Rash which is not harmful but can be alarming and it is believed I must have had a seizure during the previous night which had caused the initial rash and the black eyes.

After the seizure I was admitted given a CT scan, a lumber puncture and broad spectrum antibiotics. After five days when the lumber puncture revealed no trace of meningitis and I'd experienced no further seizure activity I was discharged and told I'd be referred to the Institute of Neurological Science at the Southern General Hospital.

In April 2008 I was seen by a neurologist who stated that the CT scan conducted at the RAH had revealed a potential lesion and he arranged for a MRI and EEG. Whilst waiting for the appointments for these scans I experienced two further seizures and was put on Lamotrigine. At the end of April and in early May I had the MRI and EEG scans and met again with the neurologists for the results. I was told that the MRI had confirmed a shadow and I was being referred to the care of a neurosurgeon.

I had my first appointment with the neurosurgeon in July 2008 where he informed me that the shadow in the MRI located deep in my temporal lobe and was very small and that this could be a cortical dysplasia or a low-grade glioma. The neurosurgeon said that given the size, that the seizures as the only apparent symptom were controlled and more importantly the location of the tumour he was reluctant to consider surgery and recommended a watch and wait approach arranging for another MRI in a year.

My case progressed in a similar manner for several years where I would have a MRI and then meet with the neurosurgeon and a neuro oncologist from the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre who would regularly confirm that the MRI had revealed minimal growth. I was advised that it seemed likely it was a low grade tumour and watch and wait would be the best course of action unless other symptoms manifested.

That finally changed in February 2016, when after my MRI I met with the neurosurgeon and a neuro oncologist who were in agreement that given the tumours growth from 2007 to 2016 together with the fact that I was healthy it made sense to move forward and carry out a biopsy.

After speaking this over with my family I agreed and arrangements were made and I underwent the biopsy on 6th June at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. I was discharged later that same week and the following Wednesday I returned to learn what the results of the biopsy were. I was informed that my tumour was a Grade 2 Oligodendroglioma, a low grade tumour but which nevertheless warranted treatment to avoid the onset of further symptoms and to arrest any transformation to the more malignant Grade 3 Oligodendroglioma.

At the end of July I met with my neuro oncologist who talked me through the treatment options and stated that their recommended course of treatment was a year of chemotherapy using Temozolomide to slow the tumour's growth and with luck reduce its size before a course of radiotherapy.

As Temozolomide can affect fertility I was advised to have a sperm sample stored as a precaution which was arranged at the Assisted Conception Unit at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary.

My treatment is due to start next week and I am hopeful of a positive outcome.

More information on how brain tumours are diagnosed.