When Oliver was told he had a brain tumour – and that it was likely to be an aggressive one – it felt surreal, like it was happening to someone else.
“My wife Sharon was crying and I was trying to comfort her. But it didn’t sink in at first – it just didn’t seem real,” he said.
But after a six-hour craniotomy, biopsy results showed the tumour was a grade 4 glioblastoma. Oliver started to come to terms with the devastating diagnosis.
And, like Glen in Casualty’s brain tumour storyline – which we advised on – Oliver doesn’t want to be defined as “a bunch of symptoms.”
“As I’ve had to learn to accept that there are things I simply can’t do any more – like my previous job and heavy chores around the house – it’s even more important to make sure I don’t just feel like a patient or a list of symptoms.
“I do my best to keep my sense of identity and I have brilliant support from Sharon, family and friends and my doctors.”
After suffering severe headaches and episodes of forgetfulness, Oliver went to see a GP who put it down to possible sinus problems or stress. The GP made an appointment for an MRI scan, with the first one being available in four weeks’ time.
Oliver and his family and friends at The Twilight Walk, in Warwick.
“I am so thankful that, despite what my brain has been through and continuous chemotherapy, I can still talk, walk and take part in the Warwick Twilight Walk!”
“During that month waiting for the scan, I had headaches every day and went to GPs seven times,” said Oliver.
“One day, my headache was so excruciating, Sharon took me to A & E and I pleaded for an MRI scan. But again I was told it was sinus problems.
He had his scan at Warwick Hospital in April 2012.
“Sharon drove me home and, as we parked in the drive, we got a phone call saying I had to go straight to University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire,” said Oliver.
There, they were told he had a glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive brain tumour in adults.
Oliver’s son, Elliot, was only seven when Oliver was diagnosed. “But when I was in hospital after surgery, he knew Daddy was different,” said Oliver.
“Now he’s 11 and knows I’ve got a brain tumour.“
After 15 months, he went back to work part-time as an operations manager with National Grid; although he suffered cognitive difficulties like forgetting words and had speech therapy for a year.
“They were tremendously supportive. I loved my job and it made me feel like me again. Being back at work also gave me a sense of normality. I got up to 15 hours a week over three days.“
But fatigue was a problem, leaving Oliver with little energy for anything else.
“After 18 months, I made the difficult decision to leave work because it wiped me out so much that I didn’t have the energy to play with Elliot or do much around the house,” said Oliver.
“I had to accept that I couldn’t do it all – and made the choice to save my energy for my family. It’s a long thought process to accept your life has changed forever and to adjust to the ‘new’ you.”
Now he enjoys cooking, family holidays and walks in the Cotswolds; as well as voluntary work for The Charity.
“I am so thankful that, despite what my brain has been through and continuous chemotherapy, I can still talk, walk and take part in the Warwick Twilight Walk,” said Oliver.
“And I feel very lucky that I’ve survived this long with a glioblastoma.
“My mantra is “Look forward, be positive and keep smiling.”