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Man who had brain tumour for 20 years says there is love after life-changing diagnosis

PUBLISHED: 06:00 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:45 04 February 2019

Mike and Debbie Palmer, who married recently. Mike has a brain injury after having a brain tumour, but he proves that having a brain injury does not mean you can't find love. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mike and Debbie Palmer, who married recently. Mike has a brain injury after having a brain tumour, but he proves that having a brain injury does not mean you can't find love. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

A Norwich man who had a six-inch tumour removed from his brain has spoken out about how it is possible to find love again after such a serious condition.

A scan of Mike Palmer's brain showing his six-inch tumour. Photo: Mike PalmerA scan of Mike Palmer's brain showing his six-inch tumour. Photo: Mike Palmer

Mike Palmer, 52, started to suffer with cluster headaches in 2010. But as they got more frequent and the pain worsened, more tests were carried out and it emerged Mr Palmer had a brain tumour.

What would follow two years later would be hours of surgery and even now, more than three years on, he is suffering the effects.

But last year he married his wife Debbie, and the pair wanted to show that even when an acquired brain injury can change someone completely, it did not have to change a relationship.

Mr and Mrs Palmer, who live in Samson Road, Hellesdon, first met in June 2013 at a ceroc dancing class, before the full extent of Mr Palmer’s brain injury would be revealed in August 2015.

Mike Palmer after brain surgery. Photo: Headway Norfolk and WaveneyMike Palmer after brain surgery. Photo: Headway Norfolk and Waveney

Specialists told Mr Palmer, a former civil servant, that his tumour was not cancerous but was large, and had likely grown over the course of 15 to 20 years, so surgery was the best option.

He said: “The doctor said to me there’s risk of stroke, of death. I thought that’s fine, it is what it is, you have to trust in your medical team.”

But for Mrs Palmer, a legal secretary, her worst fears were realised when Mr Palmer woke up and could not remember her.

Mr Palmer said: “I had lost my memory, I didn’t know who I was, where I was, or who Debbie was.”

Mike and Debbie Palmer on their wedding day. Photo: Mike PalmerMike and Debbie Palmer on their wedding day. Photo: Mike Palmer

Mrs Palmer said: “I just thought I’ve got to stay calm, because I can’t cry. They said they thought he’d had a hemorrhage and he would need a scan. That was the worst hour, that last hour waiting for him to come back.”

There was no hemorrhage and slowly Mr Palmer regained his memory. But the couple said their lives had changed dramatically.

“My moods were all over the shop,” Mr Palmer said. “I was angry, frustrated, impatient.”

Mr Palmer’s doctor referred him to Jubilee House, based at the Colman Hospital in Norwich, and father-of-one Mr Palmer also got involved with charity Headway.

Mike and Debbie Palmer, who married recently. Mike has a brain injury after having a brain tumour, but he proves that having a brain injury does not mean you can't find love. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMike and Debbie Palmer, who married recently. Mike has a brain injury after having a brain tumour, but he proves that having a brain injury does not mean you can't find love. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mrs Palmer, 51, added: “It was mostly the anger side of it I struggled with because before that he was so patient, easily going, and flexible. I was not the most patient of people and that had to change.”

Mr Palmer said around two thirds of couples split up after an acquired brain injury because of the pressure.

When asked why she stayed Mrs Palmer said: “When we met I had come through a pretty rough divorce, I was going through a tough time. He got me through the worst time in my life so I’ve got to get him through his.”

The couple were told within six months things would be back to normal but Mr Palmer still felt the effects now. Physically, he has numbness on the left side of his body. And he is also affected by extreme fatigue, mood swings, and difficulty in communicating.

Mike and Debbie Palmer, who married recently. Mike has a brain injury after having a brain tumour, but he proves that having a brain injury does not mean you can't find love. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMike and Debbie Palmer, who married recently. Mike has a brain injury after having a brain tumour, but he proves that having a brain injury does not mean you can't find love. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mrs Palmer said: “When he was feeling rubbish I was feeling rubbish a lot of the time as well, and then I thought what, he’s the one who has had the brain surgery. It is hard work but everyone has their challenges.”

Mr Palmer added: “It is life-changing but there is life and love after an acquired brain injury.”

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