Brave Tilly to spread mes­sage of hope

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ACOURAGEOUS teenager from Formby has be­come a Young Am­bas­sador for The Brain Tu­mour Char­ity, af­ter fight­ing her way back from gru­elling brain tu­mour surgery.

The am­bas­sador­ship for Tilly O’Brien fol­lows her ac­cep­tance to Leeds University to study English Lit­er­a­ture and Theatre Stud­ies af­ter the re­cent A-Level re­sults day.

Tilly, 18, said: “No-one would have thought I would have been go­ing to University a year af­ter surgery to re­move a brain tu­mour. The re­cov­ery was the worst time in my life, it was like I was re­born all over again.

“My mes­sage to any­one go­ing through some­thing sim­i­lar would be to stay pos­i­tive with de­ter­mi­na­tion you can fight this.”

Tilly strug­gled to gain a di­ag­no­sis af­ter she no­ticed that her left side felt very weak and any move­ment caused her fin­gers to trem­ble and shake.

Doc­tors thought her symp­toms could be down to ten­nis el­bow and even Mul­ti­ple Sclero­sis but it was only when Tilly was re­ferred for an MRI scan in June last year that her brain tu­mour was re­vealed. Fol­low­ing the di­ag­no­sis, Tilly un­der­went surgery.

How­ever, dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, the MEP scan, which is used to mon­i­tor brain ac­tiv­ity, failed and Tilly was moved into an in­tra-op­er­a­tive MRI scan­ner which re­vealed a po­ten­tially fa­tal blood clot.

Tilly said: “I am the first in 15 years to de­velop a clot dur­ing surgery, with it be­ing ex­tremely rare for it to ap­pear on the other side of the brain.

“My sur­geon took the de­ci­sion it was too risky to carry on with surgery, so closed the wound and re­moved the clot.

“Af­ter eight hours of surgery, I woke up with two sets of stitches on ei­ther side of my head, sick from the mor­phine, and hal­lu­ci­nat­ing see­ing the surgery team danc­ing around in Han­nah Mon­tana wigs. They say the blood clot had a sim­i­lar im­pact to that of be­ing hit by a car.

“I strug­gled to walk, talk and get my­self dressed.”

Tilly un­der­went a gru­elling re­cov­ery process and was dev­as­tated when the sur­geon broke the news to her that the tu­mour was only par­tially re­moved and that she would have to un­dergo fur­ther surgery.

Dur­ing the sec­ond round of surgery in Septem­ber, most of the tu­mour was re­moved, but some was left as it was too risky to re­move.

“For the next cou­ple of days in hospi­tal, I couldn’t stop cry­ing, as there is no cure. How­ever, now some time has gone by, I am com­ing to terms with my di­ag­no­sis. I hope my story proves that there is a way to get through this.”

Tilly will re­ceive scans every three months and may have to have fur­ther treat­ment in the fu­ture.

Now she is hop­ing to raise aware­ness around brain tu­mours and is join­ing 22 oth­ers as Young Am­bas­sadors for The Brain Tu­mour Char­ity. All have ei­ther been treated for a brain tu­mour or lost a close rel­a­tive to the dis­ease: “I am look­ing for­ward to be-com­ing a Young Am­bas- sador as it gives me a chance to share my ex­pe­ri­ence and use it to help oth­ers.

“Hav­ing a brain tu­mour can be an in­cred­i­bly iso­lat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and I want oth­ers to know that they are not alone. I love that I can turn my ex­pe­ri­ence into some­thing pos­i­tive.”

Emma Wood, teenage and young adult worker for The Brain Tu­mour Char­ity, said: “Tilly will play a valu­able role in our new Teenage and Young Adult Service by shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ences so we can help other young peo­ple strug­gling to come to terms with a brain tu­mour di­ag­no­sis.

“We hear time and time again how iso­lated they feel and we want them to know they’re not alone; as well as of­fer­ing emo­tional and prac­ti­cal sup­port.”

The Brain Tu­mour Char­ity’s Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Service of­fers emo­tional and prac­ti­cal sup­port to young peo­ple af­fected by a brain tu­mour.

To find out more, go to: www.the­brain­tu­mour­char­ity.org/TYA

Tilly O’Brien – my mes­sage to any­one go­ing through some­thing sim­i­lar is to stay pos­i­tive . . . you can fight this

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