Shorty’ St di­ag­no­sis aids mum

South Waikato News - - Front Page - TE AHUA MAIT­LAND

It was watch­ing New Zealand’s favourite med­i­cal drama that sparked a path to a brain tu­mour di­ag­no­sis for Re­nee Keat­ing.

After the birth of her daugh­ter Jade, Keat­ing com­plained how sore it was to hold her neck up.

‘‘I’ll never for­get that night watch­ing Short­land Street. (TV doc­tor) Sarah Potts was in ED and some­one came in with a sore neck,’’ the now 23 year old said of watch­ing sim­i­lar symp­toms un­fold five years ago on the hospi­tal soap.

‘‘She told the pa­tient, well, it could ei­ther be a brain tu­mour or a mus­cle spasm. I was sit­ting there think­ing, I don’t have a brain tu­mour, that’s ridicu­lous.’’

The Toko­roa wo­man, 18 at the time, thought it was a side ef­fect of her ‘‘rough’’ child birth.

‘‘I just thought, oh well, I’ve had a rough birth (de­liv­er­ing Jade), so maybe my body is just play­ing up be­cause of that.’’

The pain stopped and all was for­got­ten.

A cou­ple months later Keat­ing was in the car and said she felt like she’d been ‘‘shot in the head’’.

She had a bad headache and checked for blood, while look­ing around the car for bul­let holes.

A CT scan re­vealed a brain tu­mour the size of a fist. The doc­tors were sur­prised she didn’t have a stroke ear­lier.

But Keat­ing said she was re­lieved when they told her.

‘‘It was a re­lief to know what was ac­tu­ally wrong.’’

A 15 hour oper­a­tion re­moved 30 per cent of the tu­mour, fol­lowed by a sec­ond surgery two months later that re­moved around 60 per cent.

Keat­ing was un­der men­tal health watch as a teenager, and suf­fered from anx­i­ety. She be­lieves the tu­mour had con­trib­uted to her dark thoughts.

‘‘I wouldn’t leave the house if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t talk to peo­ple, and my per­son­al­ity would change so quickly.

The surgery left her with fa­cial nerve dam­age, mean­ing she can’t move her face.

‘‘I still have a lot of headaches and I have bal­ance is­sues, I can’t walk one foot in front of the other.

Keat­ing stud­ies full­time through Massey Univer­sity and­works part time while jug­gling two kids as a sin­gle mother.

A small amount of the tu­mour re­mains, but Keat­ing isn’t wor­ried.

‘‘I will need ra­di­a­tion to clear all of it even­tu­ally.

‘‘But for now, I’ll just take each day as it comes.’’

LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIRFAX NZ

Re­nee Keat­ing.

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