Mother's life saved by baby daughter after doctors find huge brain tumour day after she gives birth
Debra started suffering headaches a year before she fell pregnant but put it down to stress. The symptoms worsened during her pregnancyDoctors discovered a tumour the size of a satsuma wrapped around her brain stem
Debra has now been given the all-clear six years on. She said of her daughter 'she probably saved my life'
12:18 GMT, 5 July 2012
Recovered: Debra Gotch was delighted to find out her brain tumour had finally gone six years after she was diagnosed
A mother owes her life to her daughter – after her pregnancy led doctors to discover a huge brain tumour that had been hidden in her skull for years.
Just hours after Debra Gotch gave birth to daughter Sophie doctors found a tumour the size of a satsuma growing deep within her brain.
They carried out emergency surgery in a bid to save her life and feared she might not make a full recovery.
However, Debra, from Hull, fought back saying she was determined to watch her daughter grow up.
Now six years after her initial diagnosis, doctors have finally told the mother-of-one, 44, that the tumour has gone – and will probably never return.
Debra is now lobbying the government for more training to be given to medics to help them diagnose brain tumours earlier.
Debra said: 'I’d been suffering really severe sickness and blinding headaches all the way through my pregnancy – but I just assumed I was one of the unlucky people who had to put up with morning sickness for nine months solid.
'I’d had bad headaches for about three years before I got pregnant – but I put it down to stress.
'I would wake up feeling like there was an axe buried in my head. But after Sophie arrived, I felt like my brain was shutting down, and I suffered a huge fit.
'I was stunned when doctors told me I had a tumour in my brain the size of a satsuma, which they thought had been growing for at least two years.
'If I hadn’t had Sophie, it might have been too late by the time I was eventually diagnosed – she probably saved my life.'
Debra in hospital following brain surgery. She lost her sense of smell during the operation
Debra first started suffering from headaches in the year before she fell pregnant – but put the symptoms down to stress.
She was running a health and beauty sales business at the time – working long hours and travelling around the country, and was convinced that the stress of her job, and pressure of keeping the business afloat, was affecting her health.
But when she fell pregnant, the symptoms grew more severe – and she started to suffer from terrible nausea – which she believed was as a result of her pregnancy.
Debra said: 'I was being horrendously sick all hours of the day, but I just thought I was unlucky with my pregnancy.
'It got so bad that one day, when I was driving to a business meeting across a bridge over a river, I ended up being sick all over myself, as I couldn’t pull over – it was awful.
'The headaches I was suffering were changing too, they were really debilitating, but as a first-time mum, I didn’t know any different.
'My sense of smell went wild -everything smelt to strongly, and made me feel ill.
'I even started to experience hand tremors, but after visiting the doctor, he put my symptoms down to stress during pregnancy, and sent me away.
'When Sophie did finally come along, I had a horrendous labour, which lasted for two and a half days, and after two episodes of shaking uncontrollably, I had an emergency c-section.
'But immediately after the birth, I felt like I was closing down – I was exhausted, and couldn’t enjoy Sophie properly.'
The tumour had been growing for around two years before it was discovered
Debra said she felt like she was 'closing down' after her daughter Sophie was born. The next day she suffered a convulsion and was rushed to hospital
Although Debra was allowed home from hospital within hours, the next day, she suffered a convulsion while nursing Sophie – and doctors realised something was seriously wrong.
She said: 'Mike had left me nursing Sophie with her lying on my chest – but when he came back into the room, I was convulsing and unconscious.
'He quickly grabbed our baby and called an ambulance – and within hours, they had found out what was causing my symptoms.
'The doctors said my tumour was big, and wrapped right around a cord in the middle of my brain. I was shocked, but I didn’t have time to be frightened for myself – I just knew I had to fight this for the sake of my baby.
'Nothing in this world was going to stop me from pushing her around in her pram.'
Debra had risky surgery at the Hull Royal Infirmary to remove the tumour. The operation was a success – but surgeons were forced to damage the part of the brain which detects smell.
Although Debra made a steady recovery, doctors have kept a close eye on her, fearing the tumour would return, having regular scans.
But now, medics have confirmed the tumour is unlikely to return – and have told her she no longer has to be monitored every few months.
Debra two weeks after surgery to remove her brain tumour (left). Right her inspiration – daughter Sophie
Debra, who is now writing a book about her recovery, said: 'It’s such a relief to finally be told I can get on with the rest of my life – but I am starting to focus on campaigning for more funding and research into brain tumours.'
Carol Robertson, charity development manager for Brain Tumour Research and Support across Yorkshire, said: 'Research into brain cancers amounted to less than one per cent of the funds allocated for cancer research, and as was the case with Debra, diagnosis of brain tumours is often delayed.
'Symptoms can often be mistaken for side effects of other conditions, as Debra’s were, and by the time one doctor has a Eureka moment, diagnosis has often been delayed by several weeks.
'We’re lobbying the government to change that and provide better training for GPs in spotting tumours.'