Mum dies of cancer just six months after she thought dizziness was due to ‘baby brain’
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When mum Anneka Johnstone started suffering from dizziness a few months after giving birth to her daughter, she assumed it was down to 'baby brain', but it turned out to be the first symptom of an aggressive form of cancer.
Anneka, 33, was diagnosed with glioblastoma - a cancer that occurs in the brain or spinal cord - just six months after giving birth to her daughter Sienna.
The new mum had been suffering from spells of dizziness and assumed it was just baby brain until one day she fell while holding baby Sienna.
Alan Johnstone, 38, rushed his wife to hospital after her fall back in June 2019, but the couple were told that it looked like Anneka had herpes simplex virus, and she was sent home with antibiotics.
But just a few weeks later, the new family's world came crashing down when Anneka was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.
"It hit us all like a tonne of bricks, Anneka wanted to see her daughter grow up.
"After being told the news, we drove back to tell the family.
"The first person Anneka saw when she walked through the door was Sienna - she collapsed.
"All she wanted was to be a mum, be there for Sienna's 18th and watch her get married."
Alan met Anneka when they were 18 and 17 years old, respectively, while Alan was on leave from the military.
It was love at first sight for the couple, and by 2015, they were married. Alan and Anneka then welcomed baby Sienna in October 2018.
"It was sickening knowing the person she was and that there was nothing I could do," recalled Alan.
"I could see the fear in her eyes, she was terrified - like anyone would be at 33 years old.
"Anneka was dealing with it well, but the family was not, we knew there was nothing we could do."
Soon after being diagnosed, Anneka's health quickly started to deteriorate, and she spent most of the last few months of her life in hospital.
"We had a rota with the family so someone could spend 24 hours with her," says the grieving dad.
"You could spend 24 hours with her but only get 30 seconds of the real Anneka."
Anneka passed away on November 18, 2019 - just six months after she was diagnosed.
"It has been a tough road for me - going from a close-knit family to being single with a 13-month-old.
"Sienna gave me a totally different focus, she is my number one. I give her as much love as I can give her - she is the reason I get up in the morning."
This year, Alan will be running the London Marathon in memory of Anneka and to raise money for The Brain Tumour Organisation.
So far, Alan has raised £55k for the charity after walking 215 miles across Scotland in a week.
"I am doing this for the next person who is diagnosed," Alan explained.
"What would help is a change in government funding and a change in how they invest in the brain tumour charities. Not enough money is being invested into it.
"Hopefully I will get to the end without many tears, raise as much money as possible and share Anneka's story.
"I will never forget the stamp she put on the world and hope there is loads of Annie in Sienna as she grows."
If you would like to contribute to Alan's fundraiser, you can find it here.
For help and support visit the Stand Up To Cancer website here.