A mother of twins has spoken of her “worst nightmare” after one of her little girls underwent emergency surgery to remove a life-threatening brain tumour.
Isabelle Charman was just eight when she was taken ill and now a year on, together with her sister Matilda, she is organising a fundraising Wear a Hat Day to help find a cure for the disease.
Now nine, the girls and their fellow pupils at Ocklynge School will be taking part in the UK-wide event, organised by Brain Tumour Research, on Friday (March 31).
Ahead of the event Matilda is giving a presentation in assembly to tell the school about their experience, and the girls’ mum, Becki Charman, is working with the national charity to raise awareness.
Becki, of Summerdown Road, took Isabelle to numerous doctors and hospital visits after she began vomiting at night. The sickness became so frequent that she was eventually vomiting blood.
A year ago this March, which is National Brain Tumour Awareness Month, Isabelle was finally diagnosed after a consultant looked in her eyes and spotted swelling and a build-up of fluid on her brain.
She was rushed to King’s College Hospital, London, where she underwent surgery.
Becki, who works as a nurse, said, “I don’t blame anyone for the fact Isabelle’s brain tumour wasn’t picked up earlier, Isabelle had no headaches or any of the things you might expect.
“We came so, so close to losing her. It was every parents’ worst nightmare.”
Surgeons were able to remove almost all of the tumour, an astrocytoma, but Isabelle has been left with personality changes including extreme anxiety. She will continue to have regular scans to check if there has been any change in the remaining tumour as it is located close to her brain stem and is therefore too dangerous to remove.
Becki, 38, said, “There is no doubt the girls’ relationship has been changed forever because of this.
“Isabelle faces many challenges with everyday life and is a different child since the surgery.
“This means Matilda feels she has to come second. They are loving little girls and Matilda tends to talk about this on behalf of her sister.”
Now in its eighth year, Wear A Hat Day is supported by Debbie McGee, who lost husband Paul Daniels to a brain tumour a year ago; celebrated milliner Stephen Jones OBE who cared for a terminally ill friend; actress and broadcaster Sheila Hancock CBE whose grandson was successfully treated; and singer, songwriter and record producer John Newman who is awaiting treatment for his second brain tumour.
Wear A Hat Day will see schools, workplaces, families and individuals across the UK fundraising and taking part in all manner of hat-themed fun events to raise awareness of brain tumours and help fund life-saving research.
Funds raised through 2017’s event will develop the charity’s network of world-class brain tumour research centres in the UK.
According to the charity, brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer – yet just 1 per cent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated towards the devastating disease.
For more information visit www.wearahatday.org or text HAT to 70660 to donate £5.