Our beautiful daughter Laura began her first term at Kings College University in London studying International Relations in September 2018.
She’d worked so hard to get her 3 grade A’s and was just getting used to student life when she started to suffer headaches; nothing serious just persistent and annoying headaches.
She went to the GP and he said to just monitor the situation.
Laura joined the University Navy Corps and as part of the process she had a medical and an eye test. During the examination the optician recognised abnormalities behind Laura’s eyes and referred her to Moorfields Eye Hospital.
As the ever diligent student, she first went back to college to do a presentation on Iraq and then went on to hospital and was referred to a Neurologist.
The next day she became quite sick, so her sister and I travelled down to London, arriving late on Tuesday night. We took one look at Laura and took her in a taxi straight to Homerton Hospital.
At 3am she went for a CT scan and an hour later, our lives changed forever as Laura was diagnosed with 2 brain tumours. She had a further MRI scan later that morning and it became apparent that she in fact had at least 6 lesions on her brain.
So six weeks after we had helped her get settled into her new university accommodation we had the heart-breaking task of packing up and bringing her home again.
Back in the North West, Laura met with a neurologist and it was decided that surgery needed to take place as soon as possible. The largest tumour was starting to cause seizures and pressure was dangerously high within the skull.
Surgery took place at Salford Royal and although she’d had a major seizure that morning, it went well and Laura made a good recovery from the craniotomy.
A week later, we got the pathology results and the worst possible news; Laura was diagnosed with Diffuse Glioblastoma Multiforme, which is the most aggressive Stage 4 brain cancer.
We were devastated and horrified to find out that the prognosis was so poor with this disease. The median length of survival following diagnosis is 12 to 15 months, with fewer than 3 to 5% of people surviving longer than five years. Without treatment, survival is typically just three months.
As a family we couldn’t believe that our beautiful intelligent girl with so much life ahead of her, was basically facing a death sentence. It was just heart breaking.
So following surgery, Laura had a gruelling 6 weeks of radiotherapy and oral chemo, she then got a month off before starting a further 12 months of chemo (5 day each month).
We also added a huge range of supplements and repurposed drugs, anything we can find that has the slightest chance of stalling this disease and giving Laura the chance of a good life.
In addition, we also looked at other treatments that are still in the experimental phase, specifically immunotherapy treatments in
which a personalised vaccine is made from each patient’s own dendritic cells.
Dendritic cells are a type of cell that function to help the body’s immune system recognise and attack tumour cells.
The results of the initial trials are really positive and it seems to be extending the overall survival rate for people like Laura.
Unfortunately for us, the treatment has yet to be approved by NICE so it’s not available in the U.K and we have to travel to Cologne in Germany roughly every 6 weeks for electrohyperthermia treatment at IOZK.
Unfortunately, the tumour began to regrow and Laura had further craniotomies in in March 2021, December 2021 and October 2022.
Despite her treatment, Laura returned to University, where she studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Manchester, graduating with a 2:1 in 2022.
Following Lauras' surgery in October 2022, she began radiotherapy again and had a number of Avastin infusions. We brought Christmas forward because the prognosis looked bleak. However, Laura stayed well until Easter 2023 when her condition began to deteriorate, Laura passed away on the 22nd May 2023, with her mum- Nicola, dad- Mark, and sister- Gracie by her side.
We miss Laura very much but will continue her fight to improve treatments until we turn glioblastoma from terminal to treatable.