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Woman with ‘just a migraine’ actually had cancer

After being told by numerous doctors that the pain in her head was “just a migraine”, 27-year-old British woman Beth Parker decided to take matters into her own hands. She started planning her own funeral.Doctors also told her she was crazy and making up her pain, referring her onto a psychiatrist.After years of pain and…

After being told by numerous doctors that the pain in her head was “just a migraine”, 27-year-old British woman Beth Parker decided to take matters into her own hands.

She started planning her own funeral.

Doctors also told her she was crazy and making up her pain, referring her onto a psychiatrist.

After years of pain and seizures, she pushed to have an MRI.

What doctors found confirmed her deeply-held fears — she had brain cancer.

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“For months, I’d been telling my doctor that I had terrible migraines and pressure in the back of my head, which was getting worse, but I just kept being given pain killers,” Ms Parker told the Liverpool Echo, her local paper in the northern English city of Liverpool.

“On one occasion I had two seizures while I was waiting to be seen in A & E (Accident and Emergency department).”

Ms Parker’s symptoms reached a critical point, where she experienced vomiting, memory loss, seizures, vertigo, tinnitus, loss of bladder control and loss of sensation.

After pushing for an MRI in 2017, it was discovered that there was a lesion in Ms Parker’s brain stem and in the C1 vertebrae of her spine.

She was diagnosed with low-grade haemangioblastomatoma in her brain stem.

Even after the diagnosis, doctors were still sceptical about Ms Parker.

“They (doctors) said I wouldn’t see any growth until I was in my forties,” she said.

“They didn’t want to do a biopsy, due to the extreme risks, and said they would ‘watch and wait’.

Ms Parker’s symptoms continued to worsen, but doctors disregarded her pleas for help.

“From then, my symptoms continued to get worse. I experienced vertigo and loss of feeling on one side, along with immense pressure in the back of my head,” she said.

“I was even sent to a psychiatrist because the medics thought I was making it all up.

“They said it was impossible for my tumour to be causing these symptoms and that I had a functional neurological disorder, due to not coping with my diagnosis. I knew this just wasn’t true.”

By 2019, Ms Parker’s health had deteriorated so much that doctors said she needed urgent surgery to remove the tumours.

“There was a chance I would never walk again, never breathe for myself again,” she said.

“There was a possibility I would be paralysed completely or down one side. There was a risk of stroke and of course death.”

It was at this point she started planning her own funeral.

“I wrote everyone close to me a letter,” she said.

“I wrote a list of my passwords and what to do with my animals.

“I planned all the details for my funeral. It was honestly incredibly hard to do, just thinking how would everyone cope if they lost me was just heart breaking.”

Luckily, the eight hour surgery was a success.

“The first thing I remember thinking when I woke up was, ‘I can wiggle my big toe!’ and the relief I got, realising I wasn’t paralysed, was amazing.”

Now Ms Parker is trying to raise awareness about brain tumours, so that others can be listened to properly by doctors.

“During my own journey I was shocked at the countless amount of medical professionals that didn‘t know my symptoms were red flags for a brain stem tumour and how I was treated because of this,” she said.

Ms Parker is now working with the charity Brain Tumour Research to help raise awareness of the disease.

She has also set up her own fundraising page, with all proceeds going towards more research into brain cancers.

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