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The heartache of both my children being diagnosed with brain tumours

When Sharron’s daughter, Tilly, was diagnosed with a brain tumour, aged 18, her family was understandably devastated. But nothing could prepare them for the shock of Tilly’s brother, Chad, then 11, also being diagnosed, five years later.

Sharron says: “None of us could believe it, including the doctors. They told me that this couldn’t happen to me twice. No one believed that Chad could have a brain tumour, after all we’d been through with Tilly.”

The family’s heartbreaking ordeal started in 2008, when following episodes of serious illness, Tilly was diagnosed with a grade 2 pilocytic brain tumour.

Sharron says: “Tilly had been suffering with headaches and sickness. She began struggling to walk and had lost sensation down her arm. We knew something was wrong but we hadn’t realised how wrong.

When we heard the diagnosis, we were obviously scared but also very pragmatic. Our attitude was: We need to sort this out. And that’s what we focused on.”

Tilly underwent 10 hours of surgery and, despite a recurrence of the tumour just six months later, returned to university, where she was studying to become a nurse, within the same year.

Sharron says: “It was a very difficult time but we got through it and we hoped we’d made it through the worst.”

But, just five years on, in a cruel twist of fate, Tilly’s brother, Chad, 11, was also diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Sharron says: “A part of me couldn’t believe it was happening again, but another part was just so grateful that I’d recognised the symptoms. Chad had started having headaches and sickness, like Tilly had experienced and so this time we were very quick to push for him to have a scan.”

Following Chad’s diagnosis, surgeons managed to remove the tumour. However, following the operation, Chad suffered with posterior fossa syndrome for eight weeks. He had to learn to walk and talk again and couldn’t return to school.

Now, aged, 18, Chad has autism, problems with his thyroid and suffers with hearing problems.

However, despite his health complications, the determined teen has gone on to achieve his biology GCSE and has just started college. Meanwhile, Tilly is now doing well and working as a deputy sister.

Sharron is incredibly proud of both of her children, but admits their journeys have not been easy.

She says: “More needs to be done for the survivors of brain tumours. Treatments need to be kinder, so these kids aren’t being left with the life-changing side-effects that they are. If you saw Chad you wouldn’t know anything was wrong with him but he has been through so much and misses his old life a great deal. So much has changed for him and there needs to be more support – both financially and emotionally – available to help.”

That’s why Sharron took part in The Twilight Walk in Windsor on the 6 October to show her support for all the vital work The Charity do.

She says: “I’m doing The Twilight Walk this year to raise as much money and awareness into this devastating illness. It’s affected my family 3 times, we’ve lost 2 gorgeous young friends. A friend is currently fighting it and a friend, years after diagnosis, is nearing the end of his fight leaving his family utterly heartbroken. We need to make this disease a thing of the past, not the future.”