Brave Tilly to spread message of hope
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