A MUM who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour just a month after giving birth has spoken of her agony at not seeing her son grow up.
Tyla Livingstone, 22, from Fife, feels guilty that she’ll soon leave her “mischievous” two-year-old Preston without a mum.
She’s desperate to see him start school in two years time, but time is sadly ticking. In February 2018 she was told she had – at best guess – between two and five years to live.
She told Fabulous Digital: “It’s heartbreaking. I feel so guilty over something I cannot control. But I will fight to see as much as I can. My main aim is to see him go to school and for him to remember who I am and my voice. But I’ll always be with him in his heart.”
Here, Tyla tells her heartbreaking story…
It was unexpected when I fell pregnant at 20 – but I was really pleased. I had a great pregnancy until 31 weeks when I suddenly started having stomach pains. I decided to soak in a bath to ease the niggles.
Suddenly, while in the tub, my hand seized up and a strange sensation travelled up my arm.
I knew something wasn’t right so, jumping out the bath, I screamed for my nan.
It was so bizarre. I blacked out only to awaken to my nan calling for an ambulance.
She was telling them I had suffered a seizure and was jerking about. I was so stressed about my baby, I didn’t even think of myself.
Paramedics arrived within minutes and rushed me straight to hospital. On the way I felt my baby, who I knew was a boy, kick. I was so relieved.
They tested for pre-eclampsia, which is high-blood pressure, but it wasn’t that. So, an MRI scan – a deep reading of the brain – was recommended. Doctors said it was probably nothing, but they suggested it anyway as a precaution.
I wasn’t that concerned – I thought the results would be clear.
The next day I had the MRI test and shortly afterwards a consultant sat me down. She asked me if I’d felt dizzy or had headaches which I hadn’t.
Then she revealed there was a 2cm mass growing at the left frontal lobe of my brain. I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe it.
But she reassured me it was likely was benign – which means not cancerous.
And she added if it was a cancer it was likely a mild form which I could recover from. So, she agreed to let the pregnancy go full-term.
Preston was born at the Royal Victoria Hospital, near where I live, a week early early on January 12 following a short labour using forceps. He weighed 5lbs 14oz and I was immediately smitten.
Being a mum was tough but I loved it – changing nappies, night feeds and just cuddling him.
A month in I left him for the first time with his dad and my partner Mark, 29, for a night out with a pal.
I barely drank anything – I hadn’t drunk alcohol for nine months after all – but the next morning I woke up and the right side of me was paralysed.
I wasn’t concerned, I blamed the alcohol. So for two days I did nothing, getting my family to help with Preston.
Eventually I was persuaded to go to my GP. He told me off, saying I should have come straight away.
Another MRI had been carried out after I gave birth and the results hadn’t been investigated yet. He chased them and it showed the tumour had grown massively and was pressing on my nerves, causing the paralysis.
I was taken by ambulance to hospital while family cared for my boy.
We all come to this world to be tourists and it’s just unfortunate some of us are leaving earlier than others
For two weeks I was in hospital and on steroids to try and reduce swelling which surrounded the tumour. I was then allowed home but could barely walk so family cared for Preston.
Emergency brain surgery was planned for February 26. I was in theatre for nearly six hours – I was awake during part of it so they could check my senses.
Two weeks later I went back to hospital for the results. It was a grade-four glioblastoma, the most aggressive cancer that begins in the brain and is terminal.
So few people survive longer than five years, it’s nicknamed ‘The Terminator’. Learning the news was horrific. At that moment I died inside.
Chemotherapy, brain surgery and radiotherapy destroyed some cells but not all. It will just grow and grow, again and again.
The cancer is incredibly rare – there’s no explanation as to why I’ve developed it. It’s like I’ve won the lottery… but a terrible lottery with no money involved.
I know my time is running out now. I’m 14 months past my diagnosis.
I just want to make the most of my time left with Preston. He’s a mischievous little boy who is so funny. He doesn’t understand I’m ill.
I’m going to start writing him birthday cards soon, so he can open them when I’m gone. I’m saving things for him too – locks of my hair, my radiotherapy mask.
I need him to know his mummy fought desperately hard to be with him, that she loved him so, so much and didn’t choose to leave him.
But I’m positive too. Yes, I’m only 22 but this is my time to go.
Cancer is becoming so rife now and it affects everyone in some way. Life is short.
Live every minute of it like it’s your last day and make the best memories as that’s all you are left with in the end.
We all come to this world to be tourists and it’s just unfortunate some of us are leaving earlier than others.
I remain positive and that’s the key in all this. When I was given a terminal cancer diagnosis the old me died on the spot, but the show must go on and this is a new chapter for me to make an unforgettable story until the end.
This might not be the life I had planned, but it is the one I’ve got.
I used to feel awful at school for people who had lost their mum and dad, and it’s so upsetting it’s going to be my son, but in a way I’m glad it’s happening now because at least he doesn’t understand.
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer…
In the UK, 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Almost 80 per cent of adult brain tumour patients do not survive beyond five years .
The established treatment options for brain tumours haven’t changed in decades. This is because relatively small sums have been dedicated to brain tumour research, training and treatment.
Only 1.5 per cent of the national spend on cancer research is allocated to this horrendous disease – even though it kills more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
The mortality rate due to brain tumours has increased over the last 13 years.
Former Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell died from a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour, having campaigned for the need of more experimental treatments to be available for cancer sufferers in the last months of her life.
Jowell’s daughter Jess Mills, 37, told Panorama that the only time her mother wept during her illness was over the “despicable” treatment of cancer victims and the lack of research funding.
Following Jowell’s death, Prime Minister Theresa May created a “mission” named after the mum-of-two to stimulate research and best clinical practice.
May promised to set up the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Research Fund and dedicate £40million to it.
Cancer Research UK will add £25million.
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