Woman diagnosed with brain tumour while battling bowel cancer warns others to look out for symptoms
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A woman undergoing treatment for bowel cancer was later diagnosed with a brain tumour, with her symptoms initially believed to be due to her chemotherapy.
Karen Bucknall, 52, is now warning others of the symptoms to look out, with research from The Brain Tumour Charity showing that 72 percent of 1,000 people surveyed in the UK are unable to name a single symptom of a brain tumour.
While undergoing treatment for stage 3 bowel cancer in 2020, Karen started to experience severe headaches.
She said: "I was getting really bad headaches and I kept getting told it was due to the chemotherapy.
"I continued to tell them how the headaches were really horrible, my hearing was going, my balance and mobility weren't great - I was having noise overloads."
Common symptoms of a brain tumour in adults can include severe headaches, changes to vision, abnormal eye movements, speech difficulties and memory problems.
Later in 2020, the big day finally came when she rang the bell to mark the end of her bowel cancer treatment, but Karen was still experiencing major headaches.
Karen, from Cheltenham, was training to be a journalist, but couldn't focus and found it rather difficult to remember all that was required.
Then in 2021, she was diagnosed with a benign acoustic neuroma, which is a non-cancerous brain tumour.
"It felt like a huge relief because I knew there was something wrong with me," she said.
"I was like 'oh my god it is not all in my head' it felt like the missing piece of the puzzle.
"The only way I look at my condition logically is that you are not defined by cancer. I keep myself busy, I am doing pageants and modelling.
"What is the alternative, just wait to die."
The tumour is currently stable and Karen undergoes MRI scans each year to monitor it.
Unfortunately, she has been left with some after effects, which impacts her hearing and her ability to process sound.
To raise awareness, Karen does modelling work and raises cash for many charities that are close to her heart- with her biggest aim being to promote self-confidence and body positivity.
She said: "The pageant world, my pageant journey and my pageant friends saved me, winning pageant titles, and awards,
"It also gave me purpose and I want to be a role model for those who are struggling with their health and well-being.
"I want to help to empower women and children and work with all the wonderful people I meet to raise awareness of invisible disabilities."
Karen continued: "Every month is like a year to me. You don't put things off until tomorrow, you do it now as tomorrow might never come.
"At the end of the day, if you want to do something, do it now - life is very precious."