A young mum from Eastbourne who is awaiting surgery for a recurring brain tumour is urging people to support awareness events taking place this month.
Gemma Gliddon was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2007 after suffering from symptoms including headaches, a feeling of being cross-eyed and sickness.
She first underwent surgery on her son’s third birthday, in August of that year, when doctor’s were forced to take away parts of her skull in order to remove two benign schwannoma tumours on her brain stem.
Gemma went into recovery but continued to attend follow-up scans every two years. However, in August 2014, another mass was spotted and the 32-year-old is now awaiting a second round of surgery to remove the slow-growing tumour.
She said, “The first thing I asked was, ‘Am I doing to die?’. The doctor couldn’t answer that. There is a lot I don’t remember from that time and I think that’s partly due to the shock but also I wasn’t functioning properly because of the tumour. I felt numb.
“It was a dreadful time. I should have been at home celebrating with our son but instead I was going into surgery for an operation which would last between six and eight hours and no-one really knew how things would turn out for me.
“I count myself very fortunate that my tumour was not cancerous. This whole experience has made me a stronger person. I look at people now and think, ‘Why are you taking your life for granted?’. None of us knows what is around the corner and this has taught me to make the most of every day.
“We have two children now. Luke is six and too young to understand what is happening to me. I do talk to Jayke who is 10 and tell him he can ask me anything he wants. As a mum I don’t worry about myself, all I am concerned about is looking after my children.”
Gemma is telling her story as part of National Brain Tumour Awareness Month, which is taking place throughout March.
The month culminates in Wear A Hat Day, on Friday, March 27, when people from businesses, schools, universities, shops and offices will don beanies and boaters, top hats and trilbies, fascinators and fedoras, while making donations and raising awareness of Brain Tumour Research.
A number of local people have already signed up to support Wear A Hat Day, including Just For You salon in Pevensey Bay, Langney Primary School, where Gemma’s sons are pupils, and the University of Brighton, where she is a student nurse.
Gemma, of Jervis Avenue, will go into surgery three days before the national event. She said, “I am a very stubborn person and I won’t let this beat me. My friend is knitting me a brain hat which I will be wearing as soon as I can after my operation. I am determined to take part in Wear A Hat Day and am appealing for others to join me.”
Full details and fundraising packs are available from www.wearahatday.org. A donation of £5 can be made by texting the word HAT to 70660.