Headway Hertfordshire - supporting people affected by brain injury

Helen Goddard's Story

'You have a brain tumour' Helen was told.

It was a tumour that caused the injury to 53 year-old Helen's
brain. The tumour was identified in 2012 but she thinks it had
been there a long time before that.

'For months my husband Steve had noticed that I sometimes
went vacant while making a strange noise. One day he
videoed it and we showed our local doctor. She thought it
might be epilepsy and I went to my local hospital where
further tests showed that in fact I had a tumour on the
temporal lobe of my brain.

'I was devastated. I was scared, and I just thought my world
was falling apart.

'Doctors did a biopsy to discover if the tumour was benign or
malignant. Fortunately it was benign. But it was to give me
real problems.'

For Helen, the news that she had a brain tumour began to
make sense of a lot of things she had experienced in recent
years. 'For instance, I would be doing something and it
would be as if I was watching myself do it. Like an out of
body experience. At other times people would speak to me
but I would be miles away. The specialist told me that these
things and more were typical of someone with a brain
tumour. I was relieved. I wasn't going mad after all!'

The doctors believed Helen had her tumour for four or five
years before it was identified.

'But now I knew what was causing me problems,' Helen said.
'And I had a reason why I was always feeling so tired.'

She was advised to give up her very good but very
pressured job as a top chef and she began temp work. But
some of that was short-lived because of her memory loss
and on one occasion an epileptic fit caused by the tumour.

'Then I came across Headway at an exhibition and my
daughter prompted me to go and speak to them. I did, and
some amazing things began to happen.

'First, I met people who knew exactly what I was going
through. Then I began learning so much about the brain and
how it works. I made new friends who had brain injury and
they simply understand.

'I have learned so much - how to cope day by day, how to
cook safely and how to remember things. I leave post-it
notes all over the kitchen!'

Helen benefited enormously from the Headway HABIT
rehab programme and her husband and one of her two
daughters joined a group of relatives and carers.

'I would like to get a job,' Helen said, 'though part-time
because I still suffer fatigue.

'Another thing Headway did for me,' Helen said, 'was to give
me benefits advice and help me secure the Disability Living
Allowance - a huge help while I'm out of work.'