Nursing student Renae Williamson who complained about her crippling migraines discovered she had just 24 hours to live following a shock brain tumour diagnosis
A 40-year-old woman who complained about her crippling headaches discovered she had just 24 hours to live following a shock brain tumour diagnosis.
Nursing student Renae Williamson, from Western Australia, began experiencing excruciating headaches for four days in June last year.
Unfazed about the symptom, she put the debilitating headaches down to genetics because migraines runs in her family.
But after an MRI scan, Mrs Williamson was given the shocking news she needed to undergo surgery to remove two nodules from her head, with one tumour in her brain measuring 2.2cm.
The tumour had caused so much swelling of the brain, she was told she was on the brink of it being untreatable.
‘I was told if I had left it another 24 hours I would be dead. It was surreal. I didn’t have any words,’ Mrs Williamson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I was feeling like a normal person who exercising, studying at uni – just someone who was living a normal everyday life.
‘So when you sit down and told there’s a huge tumour in your brain, it came as a surprise. I was really worried and I wasn’t myself after getting the news.
But after an MRI scan, Mrs Williamson was given the shocking news she needed to undergo surgery to remove two nodules from her head, with one tumour in her brain measuring 2.2cm
‘The way they said it was so casual, it was like saying ‘hello’. It was such a shock to me because it literally started off with just a headache over a few days.
‘My twin sister suffers from migraines and it runs in the family so we didn’t think anything of it but she told me to get checked just in case.
‘And it turned out to be a tumour – thank God I listened to my headaches.’
With her husband Jared by her hospital bedside for the next five excruciating days, she was given pain relief to alleviate the pain as further scans were done.
Following a successful surgery to remove the 2.2cm tumour from the brain, she was left bedridden with 19 staples to the back of her head.
Five days after surgery, Mrs Williamson was finally allowed to go home – but she faced the challenges of not being allowed to do many everyday tasks.
‘I wasn’t allowed to do many everyday tasks like driving a car, cooking or lifting anything over 200g. Almost any sort of physical exertion,’ she said.
After five days post-surgery, Mrs Williamson was finally allowed to go home – but she faced the challenges of not being allowed to do many everyday tasks
But after being home for seven days, she was rushed back to the hospital after she started leaking cerebral spinal fluid from the staples.
‘I ended up with having nearly as many stitches as I did staples,’ she said.
‘But this did not stop the leaking. I was required to go back into hospital and get a spinal tab put in to relieve the pressure on the operated area and allow it to heal.
‘I was in the hospital for nine days where I was confined to complete bed rest. I could not move without first letting a nurse know. This was the hardest of all of it.
‘I cried so much. I felt completely helpless. For the first time, I was scared and nervous about what was happening to me.’
And to make things worse, she was also diagnosed with stage four melanoma – despite being vigilant in the sun her whole life.
‘The doctor said to me “no one wants melanoma but luckily in the last five years there have been significant developments in treatment options”,’ she recalled.
‘For me, that means the combinations of two drugs that effectively buy me time. How much? No one can tell you.
‘The oncologist said “some people live, some people die. We don’t know why some do and some don’t”.’
Following a successful surgery to remove the 2.2cm tumour from the brain, she was left bedridden after getting 19 staples to the back of her head
She also admits the ongoing treatments have put a financial strain on her life.
‘We literally got down to $5… Some weeks we didn’t know how I was going to afford my medicine,’ she said.
‘I have had to give up my studies in nursing. We’ve had to sell our apartment to afford the cost associated with fighting or rather living with melanoma.
‘We cannot afford to go out. Even just for simple meals. If we didn’t receive vouchers for the movies for birthdays and Christmas we wouldn’t be going out at all.’