Friday 21st March 2014, my life as I knew it was changed forever. After a sleepless night knowing I had a “growth” in my brain I met with the leading consultant neurosurgeon and the specialist neuro-encology nurse. My neuro-surgeon, Dr Karabatsou is a lovely Greek lady who seems to be very switched on and amazing at what she does, giving off a humble yet confident aura filling me with confidence that I would be comfortable to have her operate on my brain. My specialist neuro-encology nurse, Ms Cundliffe is a very understanding and patient specialist nurse who makes you fell like she tries to make sure you have all the time in the world when talking to her.
They delivered the diagnosis in a small private meeting room on my ward at the Salford Royal Hospital, Manchester, UK. Based on the scans the previous day, and without yet having a biopsy of the cells in the tumour, they diagnosed me with an aggressive grade 3 brain tumour. They advised that the tumour was a primary tumour that started in the brain (as opposed to a secondary brain tumour as a result of a tumour elsewhere in the body). As it turned out, after the surgery they sent off the tumour cells for testing and the histology results confirmed we had caught the tumour at grade 3, just before they were to turn into a grade 4 brain tumour.
More specifically, I was diagnosed with: a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma in the parietal lobe on the left side of my brain.
After things settled down in the room, we had a chat about where things might go for me, my expectations, life expectancy, treatment and all the questions that come with such life changing news. We would start with surgery (an awake craniotomy where I would be awake for the operation), radiotherapy, a clinical trial which would determine the treatment options of if and how much chemotherapy I would have with the radiotherapy, follow up scans every 3 months and future treatment options.