Lancashire schoolgirl diagnosed with brain tumour after determined mum raised concerns she was small for her age

A Lancashire mum was determined to get doctors to investigate why her teenager daughter had stopped growing – and it led to the 15 year old being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
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Now Jane O’Toole, 45, is urging parents to follow their instincts and keep persevering if they think something is wrong with their children – even if the symptoms are not obvious.

Jane, a palliative nurse who lives in Cottam, Preston, says her concerns were over the fact that daughter Faith, who attends Ashton Community Science College in Preston, had unexpectedly stopped growing and was small for her age.

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It turned out that the large tumour, which was not cancerous but had wrapped itself around critical areas of the brain, had been slowly growing inside Faith’s skull since before she was even born.

Faith O'Toole with her determined mum, JaneFaith O'Toole with her determined mum, Jane
Faith O'Toole with her determined mum, Jane
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Despite Jane having to keep pressing to get Faith an examination, it turned out she was right – the tumour had affected not only the area around Faith’s left eye but also the pituitary gland, which affects growth.

Mum of two Jane, who also an 18 year old son, William, said: "I want to raise awareness about parents who doubt their gut feelings that’s somethings just not right.

“You have to fight for your child because you know them better than anyone.

Faith O' Toole at Manchester Children's HospitalFaith O' Toole at Manchester Children's Hospital
Faith O' Toole at Manchester Children's Hospital
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“Faith has always been of small stature but I just assumed she would shoot up.

“All her friends around her by 13 were growing up but Faith was still the same small but larger than life character.

“I took her to the doctor and told them she just wasn’t growing – you could tell because she never grew out of her clothes!

“But the doctor said that she was only 13 – we should give her a chance to grow, so I agreed.

Faith O' Toole, mum Jane O'Toole and pal Abbie ButcherFaith O' Toole, mum Jane O'Toole and pal Abbie Butcher
Faith O' Toole, mum Jane O'Toole and pal Abbie Butcher
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"A year later things were still the same and it didn’t feel right, so we saw saw a doctor again and finally she was referred to paediatrics at Bolton for an assessment.”

The time spent with Faith has taken a toll on Jane’s full-time nursing job and she has had to take time off sick to be with her poorly daughter in hospital

So now a crowdfunding appeal has been set up by Jane’s Blackpool friend, Abbey Butcher, of South Shore, who said: “As a single mum Jane has been through so much and because of this she is struggling financially.

"I just wanted to help and the response has been amazing.”

Faith O' Toole, poorly in hospitalFaith O' Toole, poorly in hospital
Faith O' Toole, poorly in hospital

World turned upside down

After various appointments, blood tests and scans, consultants found a tumour on Faith’s brain and she needed to be admitted immediately.

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Jane said: "My world turned upside down and I crumbled but had to go and pick Faith up from school, go and get our bags packed for the hospital and act calm for her!

“They said Faith had a rare brain tumour called a cranipharynginoma. It’s not a cancerous tumour and will not spread to other parts of the body ,but it can grow back if not all of it removed.”

Unfortunately her tumour was large and was affecting her optic chiasm, left eye, hypothalamus and pituitary gland.

Neurosurgeons told Jane that Faith needed surgery but there were the risks .

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Jane said: "It was the worst information I have ever heard and I knew this was going to be life changing.

“Faith has been so brave, she is a beautiful soul who cares for others more than herself.”

Gruelling operation

Faith underwent a gruelling nine hour operation at Manchester on July 10.

The tumour had grown through her optic nerve and was all around her optic chiasm, while the pituitary gland was taken over completely by the tumour and the surgeons needed to take it all away.

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There were setbacks, as the surgeons spotted leaking cerebral spinal fluid from her nose so she had to be taken back to the theatre the next day for a lumber drain to relieve pressure on the brain.

After being discharged on July 21 to start to rebuild her new life, Faith’s nose started to leak again and after being readmitted to hospital she was then diagnosed with meningitis, before recovering.

The teenager has also lost the sight in one eye.

Incredible support

Jane said: “Faith is going to have attend a-lot of hospital appointments going forward and her symptoms will need to be closely monitored, she will need three monthly MRI scans to check for regrowth and it the tumour regrows then it will be daily proton beam therapy for six weeks.

"She will be regularly reviewed by the neurology teams and endocrine teams going forward.

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"As a parent it’s the constant turmoil, you want to be with you child who needs you the most they ever have but you have your responsibilities as an employee with financial responsibilities also.

“I work full time and have now used all my sick pay as work for an organisation not the NHS. I do not get financial help and am a single parent.

“So I am really grateful for the help I’ve received, it’s been incredible.”

So far the appeal has raised £9,147of a £10,000 target.

Jane added: “Even though the last six months have been really traumatic I am glad I persevered and kept pressing for answers.

“The tumour was secretly and silently growing and if it had been left any longer, it would have been too late.”

To help with the fundraising campaign, click here.

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