When 37-year-old Claire Bullimore was given the earth-shattering news that she had developed a brain tumour in 2008, she was told by doctors her chances of survival were slim.
Prior to her diagnosis, Claire worked for a London-based oil and gas company and felt like she was “living the dream”. She said: “I was an independent woman who felt very privileged to have a sixth-floor office overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. I was earning good money and I had a comfortable life. To anyone on the outside I was in my prime.”
But all that changed when Claire started to develop symptoms which she now knows were a sign of her tumour. She said: “I had constant migraines, was starting to routinely forget things like work assignments and I would collapse very suddenly and have episodes of blindness.
My symptoms were dramatic, and they were taking their toll.
Feeling scared and depressed, Claire visited her GP who put the symptoms down to stress, but Claire thought otherwise, saying: “I knew something was wrong so went to visit an optician as my periods of blindness were becoming more frequent. They told me there was severe pressure behind my eyes and said I needed to go to hospital immediately.”
Claire will always remember the day she was given her diagnosis and the suggestion from doctors that she wouldn’t survive. “I had a 10cm tumour in my brain and the doctors told me that I had a very slim chance of recovery”, she reflected.
Nevertheless, Claire was undeterred and refused to let the bleak prognosis deter her. She said: “From the moment I heard the words ‘brain tumour’ I thought ‘this will not beat me; I will pull through’.”
And so, after undergoing emergency surgery to remove the tumour, Claire began the arduous journey of recovery.
Claire said: “I suddenly became like a child again and was very dependent on my mum. I had lost my speech, was partially blind, weak on one side and was heavily reliant on seizure medication. I also found the fatigue I was suffering pretty debilitating.”
“People would say they thought I was very strong and that my positivity was inspiring, but the fear I was left with was life destroying. I would never be able to do the job I had before, I would never drive again, and I would deal with fatigue for the rest of my life”, Claire added.
Despite the challenges she faced, Claire decided she wanted to dedicate time to helping others, so set up a blog called ‘Aunty M Brain Tumours’, which attracted a loyal fanbase of thousands on social media.
Claire said: “I realised I had written so much helpful content over the past 10 years. I wanted to put it all into a very relatable book that would be useful to survivors and their loved ones.
“I hope it will not just help the survivor cope with the effects of their brain injury but help family and friends understand how to assist and to be kind and patient with their loved one.”
Find more information about Claire’s book, A Brain Tumour’s Travel Tale: Cards On The Table, I Pooed Myself.
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