Mum-of-two told to watch Netflix for headaches actually had brain tumour

Lisa Thomas said she was told by a doctor to go home and watch Netflix after being rushed to A&E with a headache

A mum-of-two claims she was told by a doctor to go home and watch Netflix after being rushed to hospital with a headache, which she later found out was a brain tumour.

Lisa Thomas, 46, went to hospital after suffering headaches that left her in excruciating pain, but she says she was not taken seriously.

Despite her discomfort, she alleges that a junior medic told her to “go home, rest and watch Netflix” to relax.

However, after paying for a private scan, she discovered her headaches were due to an aggressive brain tumour called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

Lisa said hospital staff were quite dismissive of her symptoms (Photo: SWNS)

She said: “I’d never felt pain like it. I felt like I’d been hit over the head with a hammer.

"But the junior doctor told me it’s nothing serious and that I should go home, rest and watch Netflix to help me relax.

"After the private scan, I remember looking up ‘GBM’ online and finding out the awful prognosis.

"After that, I couldn’t look at my two boys without crying, imagining them growing up without me being around.

"But now, my eldest son is due to start secondary school this year - which is something I didn’t ever think I’d be here for.

"I wanted to wait until I was five years clear to share my story - to help offer hope to at least one other person at a time when they may really need it.”

‘Staff were dismissive’

Lisa, an air traffic controller, first began to experience dizziness in late 2016, and even once passed out as a result, but was reassured it was an isolated incident, with medics blaming her symptoms on fatigue and sinusitis.

Months later in May 2017, she woke up with an excruciating headache and, fearing the worst, called an ambulance.

She was rushed to A&E at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, but was shocked to be prescribed antibiotics and some television.

She said: “When I got to the hospital, I felt as though I was being treated as a time waster - the staff were quite dismissive.

Lisa’s headaches headaches were due to an aggressive brain tumour called glioblastoma multiforme (Photo: SWNS)

Lisa, who lives with Miles, 45, and their sons Jake, 11, and Daniel, eight, went back to her GP in search of answers, but after being put on a three-month waiting list to see a specialist, she decided to pay for a private scan.

She was diagnosed with GBM, a fast-growing brain tumour which carries with it a stark prognosis of just 12 to 18 months.

On 17 July, less than a fortnight after her diagnosis, surgeons at Southampton General Hospital removed the tumour.

She also had eight weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy following the surgery then had scans every three months to check for re-growth.

Dr Lara Alloway, chief medical officer at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “While we cannot comment on the cases of individual patients, it is fundamental to our values that each patient receives not just high quality care, but also a positive experience.

"We take all feedback very seriously, and should there be an occasion where we do not meet this standard, steps are put in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

"Anyone who may have concerns is always encouraged to raise it through our customer care team, as has happened in this particular instance."

Beating the odds

Five years on from her diagnosis, Lisa now has a check up just twice a year after two years of clear scans.

She still suffers from some short-term memory loss, but says writing things down helps to stop her forgetting things.

Just 5% of patients diagnosed with this type of brain tumour live for more than five years, and she credits novel treatments, such as Gliadel wafers which are inserted during surgery, she received at a private London clinic for helping her to beat the odds.

Lisa and Miles are now preparing to send their eldest son to secondary school (Photo: Lisa Thomas / Brain Tumour Resea SWNS)

Reflecting on her experience, she said: "Now, to look at me, you wouldn’t know there is anything wrong with me.

“I feel I now have more energy than before my diagnosis.

"I wanted to wait until I was five years clear to share my story - to help offer hope to at least one other person at a time when they may really need it.”

Hugh Adams, head of stakeholder relations at Brain Tumour Research, added: “Lisa’s story is one of hope and we’re thrilled to hear she has outlived her initial prognosis.

"We desperately need more stories like Lisa’s.

"Things like novel drug treatments – getting treatment to the area quickly and directly such as the Gliadel wafers – can be effective.

"If you can get therapeutics into the brain without systemic treatments by using new methods of drug delivery, that has to be a way of improving options of treatment for brain tumour patients."

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