Woman did not recognise her parents and lost all of her childhood memories after life-saving surgery
“I didn’t recognise my house. I didn’t recognise my bedroom... [I didn’t recognise] even my closest friends”
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A woman lost all of her childhood memories and did not recognise her parents after having life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumour.
Weronika Fafinsk, 22, has suffered permanent memory loss of her childhood up until she was 14 after undergoing surgery to have a brain tumour removed.
Despite forgetting the first 14 years of her life, office manager Weronika is grateful the surgery worked and is now embracing adulthood after beating cancer.
‘I couldn’t hear anything in my right ear’
Weronika, who lives with her boyfriend Cameron Somerville, 24, first realised something was wrong when she was on holiday in Poland visiting family back in 2012 and couldn’t hear her music.
She said: "My Dad had bought me some headphones for the journey, but I couldn’t hear anything in my right ear. I was practically deaf."
A GP in Poland confirmed that she had gone deaf in her right ear and was transferred to Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh when she returned home.
She underwent an MRI scan at the hospital and the 12-year-old was devastated to learn that she had a brain tumour.
Weronika, who lives in Edinburgh, said: "The doctor thought it was a grade one tumour and said I may have had it since I was little.
"We went on holiday, and I was losing the feeling in my legs and getting headaches all the time.
"A scan showed that the tumour had grown massively from what it was."
Weronika did not recognise her own parents
Weronika underwent surgery in February 2014 to have most of the tumour removed but woke up with unexpected memory loss.
Coming round from surgery, she was shocked to find she could not recognise her own parents who were sitting beside her bed.
Weronika’s parents noticed a complete change in their teenager’s personality and she struggled to adjust to life post surgery.
Weronika recalled: "In the car going home, I was sick three times because, in my mind, I had never been in a car before.
"I was so scared because I didn’t know where I was going.
"When we got to the house, I didn’t recognise it. I didn’t recognise my bedroom, and I didn’t like anything in there, such as my clothes.
"I didn’t know what anything was. I didn’t know that an oven got hot, or what a football was, but I was able to pick things up, such as my maths timetables, right away.
"When I returned to school, there were hundreds of people and I didn’t know anyone, not even my closest friends."
Her tumour remained stable for six years but a scan in March 2021 unfortunately showed that the mass had grown in size.
‘I don’t want to die’
Another scan in August 2021 showed it had grown again and with her next scan due next month, she’s working hard to raise awareness.
She is joining a fundraising challenge run by the Brain Tumour Research charity where she will be sponsored to walk 10,000 steps every day in February.
Weronika said: "Throughout my life, I haven’t thought about meeting people or getting a boyfriend because I thought there’s no point because I’ll die soon.
"With a brain tumour, you have three options: surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy, and often they’re not even that successful. If none of these work, you’re basically given a death sentence.
"I don’t want to die, so if there’s any hope that the money I raise helps to find a treatment, then it’s worth it."
The Brain Tumour Research charity first ran the fundraising challenge last year where they raised over one million pounds and is hoping to raise even more this year.
Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: "We’re really grateful to Weronika for taking on this challenge for us as it’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like her who are forced to fight this awful disease."
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