Mum-to-be plagued by headaches diagnosed with incurable brain tumour

Caroline Allen
Katie Wilkinson was diagnosed with stage three anaplastic astrocytoma. (Shelly Fullerton, Magical Moments, South Petherton)

A mum-to-be was given the news that her headaches - which she thought were down to anxiety - were actually because of an incurable brain tumour.

Katie Galan-Wilkinson, 35, was heavily pregnant when she received the news about her tumour and doctors told her she had to be induced right away for her baby’s safety.

At 32 weeks pregnant, Galan-Wilkinson started waking in the night with severe headaches and a metallic smell in her nostrils.

At the time, she put it down to anxiety, assuming that as her due-date approached, she was feeling nervous.

She had to be induced to have Mario, now one. (PA Real Life)

It wasn’t until she had a serious seizure in her sleep at 39 weeks pregnant that her husband, Daniel, 36, called for an ambulance and had the mum of now three blue-lighted to hospital.

There, they discovered she had stage three anaplastic astrocytoma – a rare and incurable type of brain tumour.

Read more: Sitting all day increases risk of cancer, doctors find

In just 24 hours, Galan-Wilkinson, who is also mum to Sofia, five and Hugo, three, was told that she had to be induced a week before her due date for baby Mario’s safety.

Mario was born on 5 June 2019 weighing 6lbs 2oz.

Baby Mario was born a week early. (PA Real Life)

“Within 48 hours I’d gone from believing I was just stressed out to having a seizure and being told I had a brain tumour the size of two golf balls.

“Then, to be told I had to have my baby there and then was awful. I know it sounds strong, but I felt violated – like I was being forced to have my baby,” Galan-Wilkinson admitted.

Read more: Woman diagnosed with cancer 48 hours before giving birth

She added: “When Mario arrived, I sobbed with grief and utter devastation, as this beautiful moment had been stolen by my brain tumour. His birth was overshadowed by my tumour and I felt overwhelmed with guilt.

“There were no joyous phone calls to friends and family to say my little one had arrived. Instead, it was all about my tumour and I felt heartbroken – even though, at that point, I didn’t know how long I’d have left.”

Five weeks after giving birth, she was admitted to Southmead Hospital in Bristol for a 10-hour operation to remove as much of the tumour as possible.

The surgeons were able to remove 90%, and with 33 rounds of radiotherapy, Galan-Wilkinson is now undergoing chemotherapy. She’s on her seventh of a predicted 12 rounds.

She's currently undergoing chemotherapy. (PA Real Life)

Now, Galan-Wilkinson is speaking out to raise awareness of the issue, which is still incurable unless scientists find a cure.

Read more: Cancer spotted in baby’s eye after photo taken

“I’ve been given around three to eight years left to live. This type of cancer doesn’t yet have a cure, all they can do is prolong my life,” she shared.

“Brain Tumour Research is my only hope and I want to speak out to raise awareness of the work they do.

“Before I fell ill, I had no idea that brain tumours were a cancer – it’s not spoken about enough and people like me don’t know the symptoms to look out for.

“Sometimes, I have dark days where I wonder how my children will be without me, or if they’ll even remember me.

“But then I remember that someone somewhere is sitting in a lab trying to find a cure, which they could well do, and that gives me hope.”

She has been given three-eight years to live unless scientists find a cure. (PA Real Life)

Speaking about her seizure, she said: “I had a seizure and I must’ve bitten my tongue, because when I came to there was blood everywhere and Daniel was sat up sobbing next to me.

“He must’ve called 999 because the next thing I knew these paramedics appeared and I was just like, ‘What’s going on? Why is my mouth sore?'

She added: “I wasn’t really with it and was becoming more and more scared when I was taken to hospital in the ambulance.

“I was told I might not come out of the operation alive, or I could change physically or mentally,” she said. “I didn’t know when I was going into surgery, if I’d seen my kids for the last time.

“I’d written them each a letter, just so they knew how much I loved them and how much they meant to me.

“I kissed goodbye to Sofia and Hugo the night before and I remember thinking, ‘Was that the last time I will ever get to kiss them? Was that it?'”

For now, she said she’s taking each day as it comes and enjoying spending precious time with her family.

“And I hope that one day, the scientists at Brain Tumour Research finally find a cure.”

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