Woman who dismissed ‘constant headaches’ diagnosed with rare incurable brain tumour
Jade McMaster warned members of the public: “If you’re having headaches too often, go to your doctor and ask for a scan.”
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A woman who dismissed "constant headaches" for five years was diagnosed with a rare incurable brain tumour - after having a seizure in a petrol station.
Jade McMaster, 32, said she had suffered regular headaches for years, but just used to treat them with a paracetemol. “The headaches would just totally come out of the blue and I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “You just take a couple of paracetamols and think you’ll be alright.”
However one day, after once again suffering with headaches she collapsed and had a seizure and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. “I was out cold and didn’t remember anything,” Jade said. “I woke up battered, bruised and confused in hospital surrounded by my loved ones.”
After two days of scans, doctors told her she had a brain abnormality and was diagnosed with secondary epilepsy - a form of epilepsy caused by an underlying brain condition.
However further testing led to the news that would change Jade’s life. It revealed the bank assistant had a grade 2 oligodendroglioma brain tumour on her left temporal lobe and medics rushed her to surgery to remove the four-cm long mass.
After 10 hours of surgery, with Jade awake so they could monitor whether her speech became impaired, only 85% of the mass could be removed due to its precarious location on the brain. Now Jade has to attend regular check-ups.
After “making the most of her life” following her diagnosis, Jade thought she had been through the worst. However her fears were confirmed in 2021 when she was told her tumour had returned and she had to undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Now the tumour is at a manageable level, and she treats her epilepsy with anti-seizure medication.
Jade now urges anyone with even the slightest symptoms and out-of-the-blue headaches to reach out for professional help. She said: “It shouldn’t have gotten to this point, if the seizure had happened five minutes earlier whilst I was driving, I wouldn’t be here telling you this story. If you’re having headaches too often, go to your doctor and ask for a scan.
She added: “ I really didn’t expect to be told I had a mass on my brain. It was confusing. Not knowing the why was the hardest. There was no reasoning behind the tumour. I was living a happy, healthy-ish lifestyle for anyone my age.” No one in Jade’s family had brain tumours so it was a complete shock to everyone.
After 33 sessions of radiotherapy and 12 sessions of chemotherapy, she finished her last course of treatment in November 2022. Jade, from Glasgow, said: “I was exhausted, and losing my hair - but it was expected. Work was supportive and understanding, they only gave me what was manageable.
“I didn’t just want to stay at home and in bed all day moaning. I didn’t want it to stop me living my life- I just couldn’t.”
New scans from February 2023, showed the tumour was at a manageable level. She now has regular check-ups and scans to ensure the tumour does not progress again and Jade refuses to let it define her.
She said: “I’d rather fight it and get as much joy and love in my life than lying down and feeling sorry for myself. If you’re positive, everything works well. There’s always light at the end of tunnel.”