Brain tumour: Cancer Research UK on 'different types' in 2017
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Anneka, who was told she had herpes after experiencing frequent spells of dizziness, died months after from an aggressive type of brain cancer. The mother was just 33 when she went to the hospital after accidentally dropping her daughter Sienna, then six months old, due to her vertigo. She was told during her initial visit that she had herpes but was later diagnosed with glioblastoma, one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer.
Her husband, Alan Johnstone, is now raising money for a charity aimed at fighting one of the deadliest brain cancers.
Alan, a medical technician from Dumfries, Scotland, said: “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.
While there are more than 100 different types of brain tumours, glioblastoma is widely recognised as the most aggressive primary brain cancer.
Part of the reason these cancers are so deadly is that they emerge from the brain cells called astrocytes.
Because these cells are shaped like stars, tumours that arise from them grow tentacles, making them harder to remove during surgery.
Another deadly characteristic of these brain tumours is their ability to advance rapidly, meaning it’s often too late for surgery once cancer has been found.
“It was sickening to know the person she was and that there was nothing I could do,” said Alan.
“I could see the feat 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.”
Anneka was first hospitalised in 2019 after she noticed she was dragging her feet and experiencing frequent spells of dizziness.
She had initially put her symptoms down to “baby brain” until she one day fell while holding her child.
She was initially told had herpes simplex and was prescribed a course of antibiotics accordingly.
A week later, however, Anneka was officially diagnosed with glioblastoma grade IV, which led to a rapid deterioration of her health and subsequent death.
Much of Anneka’s final months were spent in a palliative care unit, where she passed away on November 18, 2019.
Alan is set to run the London marathon this year in a bid to raise money for the Brain Tumour Organisation.
He has raised £55k so far, after walking 215 miles across Scotland in a week.
He said: “I am doing this for the next person who is diagnosed. What would help is a change in government funding and a change in how they invest in brain tumour charities.
The number of new cases of glioblastoma per year is estimated at around 250,000 worldwide.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 10,000 individuals will succumb to the disease every year.
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