Meet Sue

Sue smiles at the camera

Sue was first diagnosed with a brain tumour (astrocytoma) in 2007. She had surgery to remove it and enjoyed the next six years, happy and healthy. However, in April 2013, it was found that Sue’s tumour had returned, and this time, her surgeon was unable to remove it all. Sue then started taking temozolomide, a drug discovered and developed by CRUK-funded scientists, as well as having routine scans to monitor any changes. In January 2020, after several years of stability, a scan revealed some changes, and Sue was treated with radiotherapy and further cycles of temozolomide. Following this, Sue’s condition is once again stable, and continues to be monitored. 

Sue had been experiencing migraines for several years before an MRI scan detected a brain tumour (astrocytoma) in 2007. She had surgery to remove it, which was successful, and subsequent scans showed no signs of cancer.  

For the next six years, Sue was very healthy and happy, enjoying her life in Walsall with her husband and three children. But in April 2013, while on holiday in the Canary Islands, Sue had a tonic-clonic seizure (previously known as a grand mal seizure). 

“I had the seizure in my sleep and it was a bolt out of the blue,” Sue explains. “Thankfully I have no memory of it, but it was very frightening for my husband.” 

Sue started taking anti-seizure medication, but a few months later she had a series of absence seizures – which cause a short period of ‘blanking out’ or staring into space. These became more and more frequent. The tumour had returned, and this time it was impossible to remove absolutely all the cancer cells during surgery. So, Sue started taking temozolomide, a drug discovered and developed by CRUK-funded scientists. Temozolomide works by stopping cancer cells from making new DNA, which means they can’t split into two new cancer cells. This can stop the cancer from becoming bigger or spreading around the body. Many thousands of people worldwide now benefit from treatment with this drug. 

“The treatment was tiring, but my family coped really well,” Sue remembers. “The house used to be spotless, but now if I’m feeling too tired, I say, ‘sod it’ and go to bed.  

“Despite my diagnosis, I’m trying to keep things as normal as possible. I certainly don’t go round thinking I need to live tomorrow like it’s my last. I just get up and deal with whatever that day brings.” 

Sue underwent 18 cycles of temozolomide with positive results and was then able to cease treatment. However, in January 2020, a routine scan showed some worrying changes: she did need more treatment. Sue then received 33 sessions of radiotherapy, followed by another 12 cycles of temozolomide. Sue is now stable, and her cancer is monitored with regular scans. She is 51 years old and lives in Walsall with her husband, three children, and dog Pickles.

 

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