A woman who thought her swollen eye was caused by hay fever was shocked to find out she had a brain tumour.
Ciaran Morgan, 43, from Kingsbridge in Devon, noticed her enlarged and weepy right eye in summer 2020 and put it down to hay fever. The GP confirmed the same.
At the time the grandmother-of-one had been to the optician who found no cause for concern. As her eye became more swollen, Ciaran also started suffering from other ailments, including: itchy skin, achy bones, hair loss, lack of concentration, anxiety and hot sweats.
A year later, in October 2021, Ciaran went back to the GP. She said: “I told the doctor everything that had been going on and got very emotional and she then asked what was wrong with my eye.”
She was referred for an MRI scan which confirmed a tennis-ball sized tumour which was pushing her eye forward.
She added: “I was devastated and in tears at the news. My mind was racing at how I was going to tell my two children.
“Doctors told me that my tumour was intricate and even though it was behind my eye, it was barely touching my optic nerve which is why I still had my sight. It went from the top of my head, under my eye and was growing in my skull.”
She was diagnosed with an intraosseous sphenoid wing meningioma. A rare subtype which arises in the skull.
Her tumour was so complex that it demanded the expertise of a multi-disciplinary medical team (MDT). They made a 3d model of her skull to understand how to remove the cancer without causing life-limiting injuries.
Eventually after two cancelled dates due to staff sickness, in October 2022 she had a 10-hour operation.
Ciaran now lives with a titanium plate, replacing the part of her skull, and a reconstructed mesh eye socket.
Ciaran said: “My eye is slowly re-opening, but I have had to learn to see without my peripheral vision and I experience sore and numbness. Since my diagnosis, I find lots of stimulation and being in social situations makes me anxious, whereas before this didn’t.”
She returned to her work as a funeral director in March 2023 and is monitored with annual scans.
This month Ciaran has been putting her best foot forward and aiding her recovery by taking part in 10,000 Steps a Day in August for the charity Brain Tumour Research.
Ciaran, who lives with constant fatigue, added: “When I was in hospital I was determined to get myself fit and come home. Now I am home and returning to some kind of routine, this challenge is a great way for me to do this, whilst raising awareness and funds for research for a historically underfunded disease.”
One in three people know someone affected by a brain tumour. Just 12% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 54% across all cancers.
Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: “Ciaran’s story is a stark reminder of the indiscriminate nature of brain tumour, which can affect anyone at any time. They kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease since records began in 2002.
“We’re grateful to Ciaran for sharing her story and wish her well in her ongoing recovery and her 10k steps challenge.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.
You can donate the Brain Tumour Research via Ciaran’s fundraising page by visiting: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Ciaran-Morgan2
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