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A brain tumour turned mum into a stand-up comic

A meningioma diagnosed in 2014 turned Ruth, and the family’s life, upside down.

Writing in The Guardian weekend magazine, her daughter, writer and journalist Deborah Linton, describes the profound effect of the diagnosis combined with a rare and temporary chemical inbalance triggered by pre-operative steroids: She was admitted to hospital, placed on a huge dose of steroids to stem the tumour that had caused months of crushing headaches, and then operated on 48 hours later.

“I woke up from the op in floods of tears,” Mum reflects, five years on. “It lasted a couple of hours, and from then on everything was hilarious to me.”

Reeling from the subsequent surgery and recovery, Ruth hit a low but over a few years rebuilt her confidence with the help of family and friends until she was inspired by an Amazon Prime show, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel – about an unlikely burgeoning comic – to sign up for a stand-up comedy course.

Her first gig in front of regular’s at the King’s Arms, Salford was a hit. From then on, there was no turning back for Ruth.

Deborah says: “My overriding thought was, God, she’s brave. She looked strong, healthy, glamorous. “People say it takes guts,” Mum says. “To me, it takes more guts to rein it in. I find that much harder.”

“She’s pretty sure what unleashed this later-life comic potential. “I know, without a doubt, that my brain tumour was the catalyst. Maybe it was the trauma, maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was in me all along. I truly believe there is a capacity for good things coming out of bad.”

Ruth and Deborah also appeared on the BBC Breakfast at the weekend. Talking more about Ruth’s experience.

A huge thank you to Ruth and her family for sharing to the wider media, raising vital awareness of brain tumours for so many affected in our community.

Read more of Ruth’s remarkable story here