Blog: Molly's Story

Molly receives 7A*s and 4As following proton beam therapy in America

16-year-old Molly Howarth, has received outstanding GCSE results despite struggling with an undiagnosed brain tumour after doctors dismissed her symptoms as an ear infection and stress.

Molly's first signs of illness began in May this year.

Molly's parents Jane and Richard, said: “Molly had a headache that lasted a few days - nothing particularly severe and we all thought she'd had a virus. About a week later, she complained about bumping into the walls at school and feeling off balance, dizzy and sick.

“We took her to the doctor who thought she might have some sort of inner ear infection and he prescribed her travel and motion sickness tablets."

Molly continued to go to school to sit her exams and revised in the evenings despite her symptoms getting progressively worse.

“Her main symptoms most days were occasional headaches, nausea (so she didn't eat a great deal) and dizziness, sometimes mild, some days severe. A bad attack, would mean she would start retching and then have to lie on the floor because any movement started the nausea and room spinning sensations."

At the beginning of June, Jane and Richard took her back to the doctors. Molly's nausea and dizziness meant she was struggling to walk.

“The doctor stuck to the idea that she might still have an ear infection but didn't want her to take any medication. He thought she might be suffering from stress."

That evening Molly's parents called the NHS helpline who advised them to go back to the doctors the next day.

Molly sat her English exam but was so ill she couldn't finish and her parents took her to Rochdale's Urgent Care Unit.

Doctors there referred her for an MRI scan which revealed a cancerous brain tumour. Molly had an operation three days later and three weeks after the family were on a plane to Jacksonville, Florida, for Molly to receive proton beam therapy.

Molly is now a month in to her treatment which is going well and the family are overjoyed at her GCSE results.

Molly said: “I'm absolutely ecstatic with my GCSE results and I couldn't have asked for more. I put so much hard work into revising for them and was absolutely crushed when I was so ill, as I thought all my work was going to be for nothing!"

Jane and Richard said: “We are beyond incredibly proud of her. To achieve what she has in the circumstances is just amazing and testament to her hard work, positivity and determination."

The family are now calling for more awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours and are supporting The Brain Tumour Charity's HeadSmart campaign.

Hayley Epps, HeadSmart's Campaign manager said: “We are so pleased for Molly, she is truly remarkable and has achieved a fantastic set of results under challenging circumstances.

“Symptoms of a brain tumour are often difficult to diagnose early because of their similarity to other common ailments.

“Due to the importance of early diagnosis for the treatment of brain tumours, researchers are trying to develop new and improved ways of diagnosing brain tumours early.

“We are committed to making the greatest possible impact on the lives of everyone affected by this disease, to defending the most amazing part of the human body, and together defeating brain tumours."