Blackpool Victoria Hospital worker who dreams of starting a family given '12 to 18 months' to live after deadly brain tumour diagnosis
A Blackpool Victoria Hospital worker from South Shore given just 12 to 18 months to live while battling brain cancer says she still dreams of starting a family with her husband one day.
Zara Taylor, 31, an NHS clerk at Blackpool Vic, had no idea that a sudden onset of seizures after a minor operation were being caused by a 52mm brain tumour.
She received the heartbreaking news from her oncologist in February that the tumour was a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a highly aggressive brain cancer with a devastatingly short prognosis of just 12 to 18 months.
But despite her daily battles, brave Zara, who lives near Midgeland Road with her husband Jordan, 29, and Shar Peis Tia and Lola, continues to work from home and still dreams of starting a family.
She first had a seizure on December 15 last year, when she described her eyes as "flickering" and struggled to keep them open.
After calling Jordan for help when she realised she had no recollection of which day it was, she was sent to A&E for blood tests, but was later sent home.
Zara recovered well, but suffered another seizure a fortnight later while getting ready to celebrate with loved ones on New Year's Eve.
She said: “All of a sudden, I fell into the dog bed. At first Jordan thought I was joking around but soon realised I was having a seizure and I was taken to hospital by ambulance.
"They did more blood tests and again, I was sent home. With hindsight, I can’t believe that I was told I could continue driving and that no further tests were carried out."
On January 12, Zara suffered a third seizure while at home, which finally led to a CT scan.
But Zara and Jordan's world came crashing down when a subsequent MRI scan revealed a 52mm brain tumour.
Zara underwent a life-saving operation to remove it less than a month later - but despite a successful procedure, she explained how her cancer journey was far from over.
"Ten days later, I went to get the results from my biopsy," Zara continued.
"Mr Phang, my surgeon, delivered the bad news that my tumour was high-grade and that I would need radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It came as a nasty shock. Mr Phang said that because of my age, he would ‘throw everything at it’ and give me every possible treatment."
But a few days later, Zara received the heartbreaking news from her oncologist that the tumour was a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a highly aggressive brain cancer with a devastatingly short prognosis of just 12-18 months.
"Jordan and I were in utter shock, we just stared at the walls, not able to comprehend what we were hearing," Zara continued.
"After my consultation, I spoke to a lovely nurse, who said they’d had plenty of patients who were still alive and well five or even 10 years post-diagnosis. She told me about a private clinic in London, which offered alternative cancer treatment."
On March 15, Zara began a six-week course of radiotherapy and concurrent chemotherapy at Rosemere Cancer Centre in Preston.
She said she coped "really well" with the treatment, but found it difficult when she began to lose her hair.
She has since found solace in experimenting with wigs, and said she is currently enjoying trying different colours and styles.
After her radiotherapy, Zara spoke with the Care Oncology Clinic in London, where a medic prescribed her with various medicines normally used to treat diabetes, heart problems, and parasitic diseases.
She is currently on "the strongest chemo possible," which is due to finish in the autumn.
"I try not to think too much about the seriousness of my diagnosis and don’t let negative thoughts creep into my head," Zara continued.
"My brain tumour has obviously put certain plans on hold, such as starting a family but I do sincerely hope that Jordan and I will become parents one day."
In May, Zara took part in the Jog 26 Miles in May Challenge, raising £4,060 for Brain Tumour Research. Her dad Keith Walsh is currently taking part in the Cycle 274 Miles in August Challenge to help raise more funds.
Meanwhile, Zara is in the process of setting up a fundraising group, through which she hopes to raise thousands more pounds in a desperate bid to find a cure for her cancer.
She said: “It will bring together my friends, family and colleagues, who are as keen as I am to find a cure for this awful disease. I want to help stop the devastation it causes and raise awareness of the severe lack of funding into this area of cancer research.”
Matthew Price, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research said: “We were so sorry to learn about Zara’s diagnosis and wish her all the best for the rest of her treatment and forthcoming scans.
"Zara’s powerful story reminds us that brains tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any time. We are so grateful to her and her family for supporting our cause and for committing to fundraising for Brain Tumour Research long-term. We remain focused on finding a cure, to help prevent more families from having their lives turned upside-down by this terrible disease."