Memories of mum who developed a brain tumour and died aged 45
A daughter has paid tribute to her mum who was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died aged just 45. Dionne Ferguson, from Northampton, was hit with the devastating prognosis in 2011.
She sought medical advice over a two-year period after she began having blinding migraines which left her incapacitated for days on end. She died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism in September 2020.
Later, she endured six operations, suffered from seizures and had to be resuscitated three times. Dionne also had locked-in syndrome – despite going through a huge rehabilitation and relearning to talk, eat and move while raising money for Brain Tumour Research.
Her daughter, Amelia Ferguson, 27, is now taking part in the charity’s Wear A Hat Day today (March 31) along with staff and pupils at Alderman Richard Hallam Primary School where she is the head of Year 4. Amelia said: “It was heartbreaking, Mum was only 36 when she was diagnosed, which is so young.
“So many people, including medical professionals, don’t know or recognise the symptoms of brain tumours. She went through so much and her life changed in three days, it had a huge impact on my family.”
In 2009, Dionne went to accident and emergency at Northampton General Hospital several times’ because her migraines were so bad she was unable to see. Amelia said: “After initially being dismissed by a doctor, she eventually had a CT scan, but we were told it was all clear.
“Mum went through two more years of suffering, needing time off work as a mental health nurse because her migraines would last for three days. Then Mum started having seizures, which was horrible to see.
“In May 2011, she demanded an MRI scan and was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Within three days, she was in surgery. It changed our lives almost overnight.”
On 25 June 2011, Dionne underwent surgery at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford but she suffered a bleed on the brain during the procedure. Amelia said: “The fluid in Mum’s brain wasn’t draining so she needed to have a shunt inserted. She needed to have five operations because it kept getting infected.
“Mum had so many complications, such as pneumonia, a blood clot, and she needed to be resuscitated three times. She also had locked-in syndrome so her only way of communicating was through blinking.”
Dionne spent a year at the Royal Leamington Spa Rehabilitation Hospital. She then moved to Badby Park, a neurological rehabilitation centre, in Daventry where the “amazing staff got her speaking again”.
In 2017, Dionne and Amelia took part in Wear A Hat Day and held a cake sale to raise money for Brain Tumour Research. Amelia said: “Mum showed such resilience and determination throughout her journey. Despite being in care herself, she fundraised for Brain Tumour Research and showed such compassion and care towards others despite the struggles she faced.
“Mum was in a good place in her recovery, she had been medically stable for a few years and was focusing on rehabilitation and coming home. But she died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism on 14 September 2020 at just 45 years old. Her death came suddenly and was a complete surprise.”
Amelia will once more take part in Wear A Hat Day for Brain Tumour Research on Friday 31 March. She said: “I wish Mum was with me to do it. I’ll be doing this in her memory and I think she would be really proud. I want to help find a cure for this devastating disease so other people don’t have to go through what we’ve been through.”
Wear A Hat Day encourages people to don hats of all shapes and sizes on the last Friday in March. Over the years the charity’s flagship fundraiser has raised more than £2 million to help fund vital research into brain tumours.
Also in March, which is Brain Tumour Awareness Month, Brain Tumour Research announced a £2.5m funding agreement to help find a cure for the deadliest of all childhood cancers.
The grant is being awarded to The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), in Sutton, Surrey, where a team of scientists led by Professor Chris Jones will form the charity’s fourth Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence.
Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “We’re really grateful to Amelia for taking part in Wear A Hat Day as it’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like Dionne who are forced to fight this awful disease.
“People can get involved in Wear A Hat Day in so many fun and easy ways, the list really is endless. Wear a hat and hold a walk, a party, a quiz night or a bake sale. Or get your thinking cap on and come up with something totally unique.”
The theme of this year’s Wear A Hat Day is to look super for science. People are invited to pop a hat on and make a donation here. You can even take a selfie to share on social media using #WearAHatDay.
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.
The charity is the driving force behind the call for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
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- ^ Brain Tumour Research (www.braintumourresearch.org)
- ^ ‘I was diagnosed with cancer at age 14 – now I’m training to be a doctor’ (www.northantslive.news)
- ^ Wear A Hat Day (www.braintumourresearch.org)
- ^ Northampton General Hospital (www.northantslive.news)
- ^ Centre of Excellence (www.braintumourresearch.org)
- ^ The theme of this year’s Wear A Hat Day is to look super for science. People are invited to pop a hat on and (www.northantslive.news)
- ^ make a donation here (www.braintumourresearch.org)
- ^ signing up for our newsletter here. (data.reachplc.com)