Inspirational Abby fights back after tumour battle

Abby Warne was diagnosed with a brain tumour and has undergone major brain surgery.

Abby Warne was diagnosed with a brain tumour and has undergone major brain surgery. - Credit: Nick Butcher

When she was 21 years old, Abby Warne had everything going for her, having left her Ringsfield home to live her dream and work abroad for the ski seasons in France and Canada.

Abby Warne was diagnosed with a brain tumour and has undergone major brain surgery.

Abby Warne was diagnosed with a brain tumour and has undergone major brain surgery. - Credit: Nick Butcher

One day in the summer of 2013, while working in Guernsey, she had to fly home with severe back pains.

And what was first thought to be a prolapsed disk turned into two years of over 700 violent seizures and an uphill struggle to be diagnosed and treated.

Now 23, Miss Warne has undergone major brain surgery at a London hospital to remove a tumour, and her family who became her full-time carers are fundraising to help the hospital which saved her life.

'I was having body convulsions, tremors, headaches, nausea and I was in a lot of pain,' she said.

Admitted into the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, doctors questioned whether her symptoms were psychosomatic - where physical symptoms are caused by psychological stress.

And after three weeks unable to get to the bottom of this sudden onset of symptoms, doctors discharged her just before Christmas.

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'They just didn't know what was going on,' she said. 'I was having these seizures two or three times a day and I had no idea why they were happening, I only knew I'd had one because I'd come round on the floor with loads of people around me.'

Her mother quit one of her jobs, her brothers cared for her on their days off and her grandmother regularly travelled down from Nottinghamshire to make sure someone was always with her.

Endless hospital trips and doctors appointments continued into 2014 with still no explanation for what had turned a healthy young woman into somebody requiring 24-hour care.

Miss Warne said: 'It was awful. I was battling the fact that I wasn't well, that I wasn't living the life I was used to and all I wanted to do was go back to my normal life.'

The year passed with Miss Warne taking more than a dozen different medications a day, and still no closer to a diagnosis.

She turned to alternative therapies, and had regular visits from Yoga Glow in Beccles to try and help work on her balance and chronic fatigue.

A brain scan early this year revealed a white patch and after much research, the family opted to have a private consultation at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, where Miss Warne was diagnosed with a glioma brain tumour and told she would need surgery to remove it.

Although benign, these kinds of tumour can turn cancerous, at which point they are too difficult to operate on. If undetected, Miss Warne would have been highly unlikely to live to 30.

'It was shocking,' she said. 'And the reality is it would have killed me if I hadn't done something about it.'

She underwent a seven-hour operation in May, and although she still suffers from mild so-called 'absence' seizures, she hasn't had a full-body convulsion since the day before her operation - by which point she had been through more than 700 of them. She is now out of her wheelchair, working with physiotherapists to regain muscle and balance, and making slow but steady progress towards her recovery.

'It affected everything, from my own confidence to my social life, it affected everything in a way that I never thought it could,' she said.

And her mother Karen Warne was full of admiration for her daughter. 'Given what she has been through I can't put into words the strength she has shown,' she said.

'It's Abby that has kept us going, she has been so positive and strong.'

Miss Warne will be having regular scans at the London hospital for many years, as glioma brain tumours can often grow back.

And to show their support, Miss Warne and her family have been raising money for the National Brain Appeal, which pays for research and equipment at the hospital.

Miss Warne and her mother sold cupcakes outside Tesco in Beccles, while her brother Ollie and his girlfriend have organised a skydive next Friday. They have raised over £1,100 so far.

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