Imagine being told that as your child grows in your womb during pregnancy, the size of your tumor also increases. However, you risk it all and despite the dangers involved, you courageously give birth to a healthy, miraculous baby. Unreal right? Well, not really! This Brain Tumour to Triumph survivor story is the incredible journey of UK-based Lisa Connell aka Mum With an Inoperable Brain Tumour.
My name is Lisa Connell, and my life has been a whirlwind of challenges and triumphs. It all began with a devastating miscarriage, followed by the news of an inoperable brain tumour. Overwhelmed by despair, I even reached a point where I attempted to take my own life after being told I would never be able to have children. But against all odds, I stand here today, a 44-year-old woman, as the proud mother of my miracle daughter, Ruby, despite the risks involved in my pregnancy.
Looking back at my journey, I can’t help but believe that it was meant to be. I was willing to risk my life because deep down, I knew that being a mother was my true calling.
The Start of the Brain Tumour: The Miscarriage that Saved My Life
It was in April 2005 when everything started to unravel. I was three months pregnant with my partner at the time and began feeling unwell. Dizziness, slurred speech, and blurred vision plagued me, leading me to seek help from an optician. Despite multiple visits, my vision continued to deteriorate. Finally, I found myself at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, undergoing an MRI scan to uncover the cause.
During the agonising wait for the results, tragedy struck once again. I suffered a miscarriage, compounding the heartbreak I was already enduring. Losing the baby was devastating, especially after I had already experienced the joy of seeing the first scan. Little did I know that this loss would ultimately save both my life and the life of the unborn child.
Returning to Moorfields in the midst of coping with my devastating loss, I received the news that I had a brain tumour. The specialist assured me that it was non-cancerous, but the risks were immense. The tumour, located in the centre of my brain, made surgery too dangerous. Instead, I underwent a gamma knife session, a form of radiotherapy, hoping it would halt the tumour’s progress.
My tumour was classified as a meningioma, a type that grows rapidly in pregnant women due to hormonal changes. The doctors explained that if I hadn’t miscarried, both the baby and I would have faced life-threatening complications. Coping with the loss and the reality of my condition, I fell into a deep depression and eventually ended my relationship with my partner. The tumour caused constant dizziness and pain, leaving me in a state of despair.
It was during this period of darkness that I felt unable to envision a future without children, which led me to attempt suicide. It may sound strange, but I was so afraid of dying that I thought ending my life was the only solution. Thankfully, a dear friend found me in time and called for help, ultimately saving my life.
This real life story is a part of Survivor Story at Health Views Online. By sharing these stories, we aim to shed light on the resilience and strength that individuals possess, even in the face of adversity. These accounts provide a platform for survivors to voice their experiences, offering solace, guidance, and inspiration to those who may be navigating similar challenges. We encourage you to explore more stories in our Survivor's Story section, as it continues to grow with narratives that capture the breadth and depth of human triumph. Remember, everyone's journey is unique, and by listening to these stories, we can cultivate compassion and foster a greater understanding of the human condition.
The Journey of Healing and Self Discovery
With unwavering support from my loved ones, I embarked on a journey of healing and self-discovery. I made a conscious choice to make the most of the time I had left, determined to live each day to its fullest. I joined a gym, participated in sponsored runs, and even launched a website called Rent A Date For Charity, which gained tremendous support from both everyday people and celebrities, raising nearly £60,000 in the space of 6 months for various brain tumour related causes.
Creating a bucket list became an essential part of my healing process. Some of the items on that list were light-hearted and fun, like kissing a sea lion or getting a boob job. But there were also deeply heartfelt goals, such as finding love and getting married.
Yet, I hesitated to include my longing for a child on that list. I continued with further treatments, including an unsuccessful gamma knife radiotherapy in 2009. In 2013, I underwent surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, they took out less than 5% followed by a new form of radiotherapy called TomoTherapy, which proved to be more successful.
Against all odds, love then found me in the form of Dean Forster, (my former partner and now best friend) a wonderful hairdresser. Dean already had two children, but my desire for a child of my own remained strong.
From Risking My Life due to Pregnancy to a Mum With an Inoperable Brain Tumour
Then, in 2015, one of my friends made an innocent comment about me looking pregnant. Initially dismissing the possibility due to contraceptive measures, I decided to take a pregnancy test after experiencing unusual cravings. To my astonishment, the test came back positive.
My neurologist advised me to consider an abortion, given the risks involved. However, the fact that I had even become pregnant surprised the medical professionals, prompting them to conduct an MRI scan after my 12-week ultrasound to assess the tumour’s condition. The emotions overwhelmed me as I caught a glimpse of my baby on the screen. But the best news came after I gave birth when I was told that my tumour had remained stable.
Throughout my pregnancy, I was closely monitored, and on March 18, Ruby entered this world prematurely, weighing just 4lb 11oz. A subsequent scan revealed that she had a rare condition called agenesis of corpus callosum, unrelated to my tumour, giving her a 50% chance of developmental issues.
During my caesarean section, I made the decision to be sterilised, knowing the risks involved with my condition. As someone who has gone through this incredible journey, I would never advise anyone with an untreated brain tumour to pursue pregnancy. However, my story stands as a testament to the extraordinary possibilities that exist even in the face of adversity.
My journey of triumph serves as a reminder to all that the human spirit is resilient. We should never give up on our dreams, even when the odds seem insurmountable. I hope that my story inspires others to find strength within themselves and embrace the incredible possibilities life has to offer. You can connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok at @officiallylisaconnell – Mum with an Inoperable Brain Tumour, help me to help others going through the same dilemma. #HelpLisa2HelpOthers
Editor's Note: Thank you for being a part of our Survivor's Story section and for joining us in celebrating the remarkable courage and resilience of individuals who have overcome life's challenges. Each tale shared in this section serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human experience. We believe in the power of personal narratives to unite, heal, and foster empathy. If you or someone you know has a compelling survivor's story to share, we invite you to reach out to us at [email protected] with subject line Survivor Story on Health Views Online. Together, we can amplify the voices of resilience and create a supportive community where healing and empowerment thrive.