‘You have a brain tumour’ Helen was told.
It was that tumour which 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 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.’
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 pressured job as a top chef and began temporary work. But that was short-lived because of her memory loss. On one occasion she had 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 says, ‘though part-time because I still suffer fatigue.’
‘Another thing Headway did for me was to give me benefits advice and help me secure the Disability Living Allowance – a huge help while I’m out of work.’