This is my story
My name is Natasha and I am 29 years old. At just 22, in December 2013 I had a seizure, the doctor diagnosed the seizure as syncope as it had never happened before and they felt no need for further investigation.
On the morning of 19 January 2014 I had another seizure – a grand mal seizure, the GP found retinal bleeding and recommended a CT scan so the next day I had a CT and a MRI where a bi-polar mass lesion with prominent vasogenic odema in the left frontoparietal aspect was detected. I didn’t know what any of this meant but I knew it wasn’t good.
On 21 January 2014 I had a consult with a neurosurgeon who diagnosed me with a brain tumor and informed me that I needed brain surgery as soon as possible to remove the tumor. At this stage I was not on a medical aid, my family and friends did everything they could to raise funds, my dad even cashed out his entire provident fund to admit me to hospital.
On 5 February 2014 I had a craniotomy to remove the tumor. The surgeon was confident he removed over 90% of the tumor. He however informed my dad after surgery that it was cancerous and the pathology lab confirmed a diagnosis of Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme.
I started radiation at State Oncology on 26 March 2014 until 14 May 2014. Following radiation I had oncology appointments every 3 months, when a MRI in 2015 showed no new growth I moved to having appointments every 6 months and then finally only once a year with a yearly MRI - I was finally almost in remission.
In 2019 I started having focal seizures, I saw a neurologist who said they are normal and seizures would happen, he did an EEG and it was normal. On 7 October 2019 my seizure medication was increased as I was having the focal seizures and it was possible my body was getting used to the medication. I started to develop a speech impediment and difficulty communicating as well as numbness/muscle paralysis on my right side, especially my right arm and hand which caused difficulty doing simple daily task such as writing and signing my name – this is caused by increased pressure and swelling on the brain.
In 2020 I lost my job as a teaching assistant as I was considered too high risk due to Covid-19. I continued to have focal seizures and in March the neurologist suggested a MRI and referred me to State Oncology for a MRI. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 the State hospital said that if the patient is stable it is best to stay at home. Finally on 25 August 2020 I had a MRI with the State – the result was Brain herniation syndrome due to further tumor progression and an urgent neurosurgical consult was needed.
By 27 August 2020 I was booked for surgery on 01 September 2020 for a craniotomy for resection of tumor and removal of a cyst on my brain; the surgeon could not remove everything without causing permanent damage to my speech and mobility but was able to drain the cyst and reduce the pressure on my brain which was causing seizures. The post-surgery MRI in January 2021 showed features consistent with residual Glioblastoma Multiforme.
I was referred to a private oncologist to discuss chemotherapy; she said there is a 4cm tumor left which will double in size every 3 months if left untreated. I need to start chemotherapy as soon as possible. I will do a minimum of 4 rounds, possibly five or six.
After chemotherapy, if the tumor has shrunk enough she believes I could be a good candidate for Gamma Knife treatment which is a form of surgery using radiation – I would need to fly to Johannesburg for this treatment.
I have come this far and I am stronger than anyone thought I could be - giving up was never an option.
Please have a look at my backabuddy page and help share this to raise the funds needed to continue my treatment https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/natasha-brown
Articles written and posted:
Good Things Guy
All my love