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''No one knows what is around the corner' - Norfolk mum with brain tumour's joy ahead of birth of second child

PUBLISHED: 12:22 10 June 2019

Grace Thoburn with her son. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

Grace Thoburn with her son. Photo: Ella Wilkinson

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Grace Thoburn, from Harleston, was just 23 when doctors gave her the devastating news that she had a brain tumour after she suddenly began struggling to finish her sentences while talking to her family and suffered a series of seizures.

Harleston mum Grace Thoburn with the mask used during her radiotherapy treatment for a brain tumour. Picture: Grace ThoburnHarleston mum Grace Thoburn with the mask used during her radiotherapy treatment for a brain tumour. Picture: Grace Thoburn

She has since had surgeries to remove her tumour and bouts of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and is now pregnant with a baby girl - who is due in three weeks - so her two-year-old son will have a sister, and her husband James a bigger family.

She said: "I wanted my son to grow up with a sibling because I have got two and I cannot imagine not having any as we are all close. I kind of know it is a bit of a risk and that having two young children is going to be even more tiring.

"But we knew we wanted another one and I have always said if my health is generally fine then why not? Finding out I was pregnant again was the nicest surprise."

Grace Thoburn, from Harleston, in hospital after undergoing her brain tumour first surgery. Picture: Grace ThoburnGrace Thoburn, from Harleston, in hospital after undergoing her brain tumour first surgery. Picture: Grace Thoburn

The stay-at-home-mum, now 36, met her husband-to-be after her first surgery, an awake craniotomy - "it sounds dramatic, but to be honest it wasn't as bad as it sounded" - that removed 85pc of her tumour.

Their son was born almost a decade after she was first diagnosed but she admits she agonised over whether becoming a parent was selfish and whether it would be fair on the child.

She said: "I had always wanted kids, and James did too, but I did have to ask myself would it be selfish to have a child? I have never let my tumour define me and after talking to my neuro team I decided that as no one knows what is around the corner we should behave as we wanted. Becoming a mum felt right."

Grace Thoburn. Picture: Ella WilkinsonGrace Thoburn. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Originally from Rayleigh in Essex, Grace and her husband moved to Norfolk be closer to the support of her family, including her mother, who lives in Diss.

Being pregnant again means she is currently not undergoing her regular brain scans. "When I have my next scan in August I will be nervous because a long break without having any is terrifying," she said. "Even though it has been more than 12 years, it never gets easier."

She is now a patient advocate on the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. "I want people to know it is not the end of the world. When I was first diagnosed I thought I'm never going to married or have children," she said.

Harleston mum Grace Thoburn gives a thumbs up during her final session of radiotherapy. Picture: Grace ThoburnHarleston mum Grace Thoburn gives a thumbs up during her final session of radiotherapy. Picture: Grace Thoburn

"I always said it is not going to stop me having my life. It is not always easy, but I just try to life as normal as possible even if it is always at the back of my mind."

Grace backs research into treatment of disease

Harleston mum Grace Thoburn lost her hair following radiotherapy and chemotherapy for a brain tumour. Picture: Grace ThoburnHarleston mum Grace Thoburn lost her hair following radiotherapy and chemotherapy for a brain tumour. Picture: Grace Thoburn

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40, yet historically just one percent of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to the devastating disease.

Grace hopes her experiences will help others and said treatment is progressing with notable advances between her two surgeries in 2009 and 2014.

Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of the charity Brain Tumour Research, said: "We are so pleased to have Grace alongside us on the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. It is really important that among the politicians, scientists and clinicians that the patient voice is heard.

Grace, from Harleston (right) is a patient advocate and fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research. Picture: Grace ThoburnGrace, from Harleston (right) is a patient advocate and fundraiser for Brain Tumour Research. Picture: Grace Thoburn

"The mission was set up because of one patient voice and the unified voice of our supporters have been calling for change and an improvement in research funding for a decade. It now feels that together we are getting somewhere."

- More information about the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission

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