Stacey Duffy, 44, from Goole started having headaches, feeling tired and a sensation like she had grit in her eye last June. Her vision then started going blurry too which made it difficult for her at work as an English teaching assistant for SEN children.
She went to see her optician who then referred her to the eye clinic at Hull Royal Hospital. An MRI scan found the mass which was then diagnosed as an optic nerve meningioma. Stacey had a craniotomy but the tumour could not be safely removed as it was too close to her optic nerve and could have damaged her sight even further. She also had optic nerve compression to ease pressure on it and also allow space should the tumour continue to grow. A biopsy to see if the tumour was cancerous was also inconclusive.
Stacey said: “Unfortunately, I have nearly lost all of my sight in my right eye with no chance of it returning. I am still learning how to adjust to this so I can do everyday tasks like make hot drinks, cook dinners for my 15-year-old son and drive now I am able to do so again. I still have the same symptoms as well as my scalp still being numb. I am still waiting to find out what the next step will be.”
Despite this, Stacey is putting her best foot forward by taking on The Brain Tumour Charity’s Conquer the Steps challenge throughout March which is Brain Tumour Awareness Month. The organisation is asking people to fundraise by getting active in March and tackling 10,000 steps a day, or whatever is manageable, to help stomp out brain tumours.
Stacey said: “The challenge has been great so far as it’s making me get up and do things which helps to take my mind off what’s been happening. But for the first four weeks after the surgery, I was virtually bed bound. I struggled to do anything for myself and I needed help with everything from bathing to dressing and just walking around the house.
“Going through something like this really makes you rethink what’s important. I also haven’t felt like ‘me’ for a long time so Conquer the Steps has given me the determination to find myself again. If anyone is thinking of taking on Conquer the Steps then I would wholeheartedly encourage them to do so. Every step counts and any amount of money will make a difference.”
Stacey found out about The Brain Tumour Charity when she searched online for information following her diagnosis. Since then, she has been regularly visiting The Charity’s digital channels to read the real-life stories of others who have been affected by a diagnosis. She says this helps her to feel less alone through her experience.
Stacey added: “A brain tumour diagnosis can happen to anyone yet I knew so little about them before my own diagnosis. I think it’s important for anyone who is feeling unwell or experiencing something which is not quite right to get themselves checked over by a health professional. Nothing is too small a symptom and it’s best to make sure that it’s nothing to worry about and it could potentially be lifesaving – it was for me.”
Stacey will now have regular MRI scans every three months to monitor the tumour for any changes alongside plans to hopefully start a course of radiotherapy later in the year. Ahead of her return to work in a few weeks, Stacey is valuing the help and support of her friends and family.
She added: “A diagnosis like this does have a huge impact of those around the person with the tumour too and my loved ones have been wonderful. One particular friend has been there for me every step of the way to listen to me, make me laugh when I was sad and care for me even when she has her own family to look after too. I am incredibly thankful.
“My son has also shown such maturity in how he has handled it and I am so proud of him. He has dealt with my diagnosis and looked after me alongside his own pressures of big exams at school. My husband has also been amazing too. Without them both I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
To join the Conquer the Steps challenge, visit https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/get-involved/conquer-the-steps/
Every step forward matters
Whether you’re taking 1 step at a time or 10,000 steps daily, all we’re asking is that you get active every day during Brain Tumour Awareness Month. What matters most is putting your best foot forward and making plenty of noise to help us defeat brain tumours!