Shona Floyd on her daughter Tasha’s brain donation to further help research into DIPG
“Tasha was an inspiration and a joy. Her legacy will live on in our fight to defeat brain tumours."
Tasha lost her life to a brain tumour earlier this year. Tasha was one of The Brain Tumour Charity's Young Ambassadors and was committed to changing the future for brain tumour patients.
Tasha experienced severe headaches while studying for her GCSEs. Put down to migraines induced by the stress of forthcoming exams, Tasha condition was repeatedly misdiagnosed by GPs over a period of six months. It was a visit to an optician, who noticed irregularity in her optic discs that prompted a CT and MRI scan. This revealed a rare, inoperable brain tumour (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) with a less than 1% survival rate. The delay in diagnosis and resulting pressure on Tasha's brain led to the loss of her sight – she is now registered blind.
Not deterred by her daunting diagnosis, Tasha was determined to live life to the full and travelled across Australia, getting the chance to meet with some of her favourite stars from Neighbours. Back home, after watching a McFly concert, Tasha was able to meet with the band, showing that nothing was going to stop her fulfilling her dreams.
Shona Floyd, Tasha's mum said: “Getting Tasha the help she needed was a long process and I would urge any person who is worried about a child to take them to a GP. Diagnosing a brain tumour is difficult and the symptoms are often mistaken for other conditions."
Tasha shared her story - here is the article that was published:
Being blind won't stop me living my dreams
When Tasha Floyd, 20, was diagnosed with a brain tumour her world fell apart.
As the optician peered into my eyes, I tried to stay calm. I was 16, had been suffering from bad headaches and dizziness for the last six months and had been diagnosed with migraines. But lately my symptoms had worsened. I was unsteady on my feet and strange black shapes were sliding across my vision.
My mum, Shona, 43, took me to the optician to see if there was anything wrong with my sight. 'There'sa lot of pressure on your optic nerve', he said. 'It could be a brain tumour'. I felt a burst of nausea in my stomach.
I was sent to The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead for an MRI scan.'You have a tumour on your brain stem', a consultant told me. 'It's inoperable but we can give you radiotherapy'. Mum started crying and reached for my hand.
Doctors gave me a shunt – a tube that drained fluid from my brain – and I started to feel better. But the next morning I woke up and was watching TV when I realised something was wrong. 'The colours are all blurry', I cried to Mum. I was sent back home and prayed my vision would go back to normal. But a week later all I could see were white blobs on a sea of black.
Doctors discovered my optic nerve had been badly damaged by the tumour. 'I'm afraid it's irreversible', they told me. I was going blind at 16. It wasn't fair.
I tried to pull myself together – I had to be grateful I was still alive – and started a six-week course of radiotherapy. But I was told that, although the tumour had stopped growing, it hadn't shrunk.
'The survival rate isn't good', our consultant admitted. It was another bitter blow, but I was determined to prove them wrong. So Mum, my dad Graham, 46, and I embarked on a “gap year", touring the world and doing all the things I loved.
First stop, Melbourne, to visit the set of Neighbours. Alan Fletcher, who plays Karl Kennedy, showed me round the set and I met Jackie Woodburne, who plays Susan.
Our next trip was to Salzburg, Austria, where The Sound of Music, one of my favourite films, was made. We ran around the fountains and even knocked on the nunnery door!
Back home I went to a McFly concert and got to meet the boys. Being diagnosed with a brain tumour and losing my sight wasn't going to stop me living my dreams.
Four years on I'm doing really well. I've started a college course in music and made lots of friends. I had a boyfriend, Frazer, who was also blind but sadly passed away from a recurring brain tumour. I was devastated but somehow I pulled through it and I'm now seeing Harry, 23, who was born blind.
It's hard seeing friends move on with their lives. But I'm determined to keep on fighting and enjoying life to the full.
Shona says: "Tasha is my only child and I couldn't contemplate losing her. Luckily she's gone from strength to strength. I'm so proud of her. I feel protective of her but I know she wants to do things on her own. The only times I've seen her upset is when she's missed out on things her friends are doing, like getting jobs or moving away from home. But she always picks herself up again and keeps going. She's an inspiration."