Shorty’ St diagnosis aids mum
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.’’