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Mum, 42, diagnosed with brain tumour after being told migraines were ‘due to menopause’

Rhiannon Ingle

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| Last updated 

Mum, 42, diagnosed with brain tumour after being told migraines were ‘due to menopause’

Featured Image Credit: Collect/PA Real Life

A 42-year-old mum was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumour after being told her migraines were 'due to menopause'.

Sarah Kelly, a social worker, had been experiencing painful migraines for a gruelling 10 years - something medics believed was a symptom of menopause.

However, doctors later discovered a 7.5 inch brain tumour after the mum-of-two attended her first routine eye test in a decade.

Sarah Kelly discovered that she had a 7.5 inch brain tumour in March 2023. Credit: Collect/PA Real LifeSarah Kelly discovered that she had a 7.5 inch brain tumour in March 2023. Credit: Collect/PA Real Life

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Sarah went to A&E back in March of last year after the 'severe head pain' she had been suffering with for years took a turn for the worse, but when medics believed they were caused by hormonal changes, the mum-of-two made an appointment at Specsavers in Blaydon to get her eyes tested.

Recalling her symptoms, Sarah said: "I was feeling quite poorly, struggling with forgetfulness and had difficulty finding words in conversation. I’ve always been quite a high performer at work and I was starting to really struggle with composing emails and reports."

Sarah had initially put her health issues down to the menopause but, after playing a charity gig with her band, the mum became very unwell and went to A&E.

The tumour was picked up during Sarah's first eye test in a decade. Credit: Collect/PA Real LifeThe tumour was picked up during Sarah's first eye test in a decade. Credit: Collect/PA Real Life

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There, medics believed her symptoms were hormonal and prescribed medication but Sarah’s health continued to plummet and, the following week, she went to Specsavers 'out of desperation'.

She said: "My partner suggested that I go for an eye test because I hadn’t had one in 10 years and once there, my optician noticed that my optic discs were quite swollen. They picked up on the issue and referred me to the eye clinic at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle."

Once she was there, her optician noticed that her optic discs were swollen and Sarah was referred to hospital.

The next day, she underwent tests including a head CT scan and, as a result, was diagnosed with a grade one meningioma brain tumour.

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After playing a charity gig with her band, Sarah became very unwell. Credit: Collect/PA Real LifeAfter playing a charity gig with her band, Sarah became very unwell. Credit: Collect/PA Real Life

It is believed that the slow-growing, benign tumour had been lurking for years and causing her migraines as it put pressure on her brain which caused her to experience numbness and slurred speech and, after multiple trips to her doctor, she had accepted the symptoms as part of her menopause.

At the end of March, Sarah underwent brain surgery to remove the mass and is now recovering - a process which she says has been 'slow'.

Sarah, who lives in Northumberland with her partner and her two children from a previous relationship, told PA Real Life: "I had accepted that the symptoms I was experiencing were hormonal and part of the menopause, but looking back now, I had some very clear red flags but I just didn’t know what they were.

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"If I had kept up with my routine eye tests, this would have been picked up a lot sooner, but I hadn’t been to an eye test in 10 years when I finally went in March last year."

Sarah went to A&E in March last year after the migraines she had been experiencing for years took a turn for the worse. Credit: Collect/PA Real LifeSarah went to A&E in March last year after the migraines she had been experiencing for years took a turn for the worse. Credit: Collect/PA Real Life

Missing the clinic’s open hours by 10 minutes, Sarah returned the following day where she was given a head CT scan which facilitated her diagnosis.

Once diagnosed, Sarah needed to undergo more tests including an MRI and was placed on steroids to reduce some of the swelling.

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She was admitted to the hospital and, two days after her diagnosis, she underwent brain surgery to remove the 7.5-inch mass.

Sarah then had a follow-up scan in July which came back clear and will now have annual scans to check that the tumour has not returned.

The mum has since said she wants to encourage other people to get their eyes tested, adding: "If my tumour hadn’t been picked up then I could have suffered a seizure, I could have gone blind or I could have died.

"Because my eyesight has always been fine, I never kept up with check-ups, but now I’m always telling people to go get their eye tests. It could be a life-saving appointment."

She now has to have annual scans to check that the tumour has not returned. Credit: Collect/PA Real LifeShe now has to have annual scans to check that the tumour has not returned. Credit: Collect/PA Real Life

Sarah has been in recovery, which she said has been a long process.

"I still have numbness now in my leg and it’s quite weak but I can walk with a stick. My progress has been slow and steady, which is good, I haven’t plateaued but it hasn’t been quick," she continued. "Patience is a virtue and it’s not going as quick as I’d like but I’m making small bits of progress.

"I can do most things that I did before, I’m not driving yet but hopefully that will come. It just shows you how quickly life can change."

Sarah hopes to encourage others to attend their eye test appointments. Credit: Collect/PA Real LifeSarah hopes to encourage others to attend their eye test appointments. Credit: Collect/PA Real Life

Now, Sarah hopes to encourage others to attend their eye test appointments and is raising awareness for the importance of having your eyes checked regularly.

Sarah said: “I’m really passionate about it and I definitely want to encourage people to just listen to their body. I had some very clear red flags and I didn’t know what they were so now I’m trying to raise more awareness."

"It can be easy to dismiss symptoms," she admitted. "And, as busy working mums, we’re not very good at listening to what is going on with our health but it’s important to get these things checked out. It could be life saving."

Topics: Real Life, Health, Parenting, UK News, News

Rhiannon Ingle
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