Doctors said I was going through the menopause – but my symptoms were actually a brain tumour: Agony of 60-year-old mother who was made to feel like a ‘time waster’ during three-year ordeal

Photo of author
Written By Rivera Claudia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

A mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour after her symptoms were blamed on the menopause.

Karen Griffiths, 60, from Eastbourne, Sussex, sought help in 2018 when she started hearing a thumping noise that kept in rhythm with her pulse.

Around the same time, she also began to suffer morning headaches, struggle with speech and lose her train of thought.

Ms Griffiths, an insurance coach, repeatedly visited her GP but was made to feel like a ‘time waster’.

One doctor claimed her symptoms were most likely down to menopause, which she was going through at the time.

Karen Griffiths, 60, started being able to hear her own heart beat in her ear because a lump in her brain was pressing on a major vein

In April 2021, when the ‘beat’ in her ear got so loud it would wake her up at night, Ms Griffiths was referred to an ear, nose and throat consultant.

She was sent for an MRI scan at Eastbourne District General Hospital where it was revealed she had a benign brain tumour.

Recalling her difficulties in getting diagnosed, Ms Griffiths said: ‘I was suffering with symptoms for over three years and it gradually got worse.

‘Alongside that I was going through menopause, and it is very well known that it can create headaches, brain fog and difficulty concentrating.’ All three can be signs of a brain tumour.

What is a benign brain tumour and what are the symptoms?

A benign brain tumour is non-cancerous.

It is a mass of cells that grows relatively slowly in the brain.

It usually stays in one place and does not spread.

If it is removed completely in surgery the risk of it growing back is low. But if it is not fully removed it will need to be closely monitored to make sure it does not grow back. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • New, persistent headaches seizures (epileptic fits) 
  • Feeling sick all the time
  • Being sick
  • Drowsiness 
  • Mental or behavioural changes, such as changes in personality 
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Vision problems
  • Speech problems

Source: NHS 

Advertisement

Ms Griffiths claimed that ‘one of the key things that got missed’ was the headaches striking when she woke up — a known phenomenon in brain tumour patients.

On top of the throbbing pains, Ms Griffith said her pulsatile tinnitus — the noise she heard in her ear — ‘got worse and worse but I was told not to worry about it’.

She said: ‘In my experience, they (doctors) all too readily disregard them and blame them on something else instead.

‘My symptoms were disregarded for a long time, despite things getting steadily worse. I ended up feeling like a time waster. 

‘Looking back, it was quite dangerous.’

Around 16,000 Brits are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year, or roughly one every two hours.

Some are cancerous. Others, like Ms Griffiths’ are benign. 

Discussing her scan in April 2021, Ms Griffiths said: ‘The consultation I had was more in-depth. I could tell he was really listening to what I was saying.

‘I could see his face clouding over when I was explaining that the one-sided pulsatile tinnitus was so loud it would wake me up.’

Scans revealed that the lump in her brain was pressing on the superior sagittal sinus vein, which runs along the upper part of the brain and travels from an area near your nasal passage to the back of your skull. 

Pressure on the vein can cause a type of tinnitus.

Following her scan Ms Griffiths was referred to a neurosurgeon who advised her on the risks of the tumour.

She added: ‘I understood quite early on that the tumour was a benign meningioma (tumours that start in the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord) — but that it was attached to a major vein which it had pushed to one side.

‘The neurosurgeon advised me of the risks which among other things was risk to life.

‘Initially I was in disbelief so I threw myself into my work as if nothing had happened.’

As well as receiving her own diagnosis, in the same week, Ms Griffiths found out that her mother, Jillian Stevens, 83, was dying of cancer.

Not wanting to add to her family’s pain, Ms Griffiths kept her own tumour a secret.

In March 2022, Ms Griffiths had an operation to remove her tumour at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London. But surgeons were unable to remove the whole tumour meaning there is a risk it could grow back

In March 2022, Ms Griffiths had an operation to remove her tumour at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London. But surgeons were unable to remove the whole tumour meaning there is a risk it could grow back

In March 2022, Ms Griffiths had an operation to remove her tumour at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London.

Surgeons were unable to remove the whole tumour, meaning there is a risk it could grow back.

Even after surgery she is still experiencing nightly seizures as a result of the location of the tumour which remains.

Now Ms Griffiths has regular MRI scans to monitor her condition.

‘It has been really difficult, the after-effects of surgery were difficult to deal with,’ said Ms Griffiths.

‘My speech, memory and balance are gradually improving. I haven’t been back to work since September 2021.

‘My employers have been fantastic and I hope to be heading back to work soon.’

SOURCE

Leave a Comment

data data data data data data data data data data data data data