Mum, 48, suffered dizziness prior to brain tumour diagnosis

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A mum who thought she had an ear infection was shocked to find out she actually had a brain tumour. Sue Hitchmough, 48, went to the doctors after suffering from minor hearing loss in her right ear and dizziness. She was initially told she had an ear infection and prescribed antibiotics.

However, after taking a course of the tablets, Sue wasn’t getting any better – and started to experience problems with swallowing.

For nearly a year she attributed her health issues to “overdoing it at the gym” but was finally diagnosed with a low-grade acoustic neuroma – a type of brain tumour – in September 2021.

The following February the managing director had her first operation to remove the 3.5cm tumour.

Sue is now completely deaf in one ear, has lost the ability to cry in her right eye and has lost taste on one side.

She was fitted with a permanent tube in her head called a shunt – which works by draining excess fluid from the brain.

Last month she underwent surgery to tie up the tube as doctors were concerned more fluid was being released than needed.

Sue, from Burleson in Hampshire, said: “I used to wake up during the night with the sensation of a tablet stuck in my throat.

“I found myself making excuses for everything my body was feeling.


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“I’d think that perhaps I was overdoing it at the gym and not eating enough. My life changed as soon as I heard the words ‘brain tumour’.”

It was especially difficult for Sue to process because of her family’s history.

“I lost my aunt to the disease when I was a young teenager, she was 40,” she said.

“I wondered if it could be hereditary, and if so, were my children at risk?

“When I asked, the consultant advised they didn’t know what caused them. It was just ‘one of those things.

“I did my own research into brain tumours and was alarmed with how little is known about the disease.”

Now Sue is determined to help clothes with the same type of brain tumour and has set up an Instagram account where she regularly posts information about her surgeries and health updates.

She has volunteered to take part in a charity firewalk for Brain Tumour Research.

Mel Tiley, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, commented: “We’re grateful to Sue for sharing her story with us. It reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate – they can affect anyone at any age.

“We have firewalks taking place all over the country and are delighted to bring this event to people who want to join the fighting force to help find a cure for this disease.

“We wish Sue and all the participants the best of luck in what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

According to the NHS, common symptoms of a brain tumour include:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness
  • Mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
  • Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Vision or speech problems.

If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your GP.

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