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Lindsay Lapham

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Lindsay Lapham

Lindsay Lapham

I always knew something was wrong

Lindsay Lapham, from Cambridge, visited her GP 28 times over a four-year period between 2005 and 2009 complaining of dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and muscle weakness. Lindsay was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour, which by April 2009 had grown to the size of an egg, putting significant pressure on the soft brain tissue surrounding it.

"I always knew something was wrong," said Lindsay, a mother of two. "But every time I went to see my GP, they just thought 'Neurotic, bored housewife. Join the queue.'

"The symptoms started in 2005, after I'd just turned 40. My doctor couldn't provide any answers but all the while my symptoms got worse.

The headaches were so bad that I often had to spend days on end in a darkened room.

"I should have just marched into our local hospital and demanded a scan, but you don't, do you? You trust you doctor to know what's wrong with you. Instead, I just kept going, which is what you do when you have children to look after.

"I was given several diagnoses along the way, including my symptoms being panic attacks, or the result of an underactive thyroid. I was even prescribed cognitive behavioural therapy as if my issues were purely psychological.

"In December 2008, I suffered a seizure as a result of my growing but undiagnosed tumour. But even then I wasn't offered a scan. After another partial seizure in April 2009, I asked my husband to accompany me to my GP to see if he could help me get my GP's attention.

"I told my doctor 'I think I've got a brain tumour', but my GP didn't agree. However, I was finally referred to a neurologist. In May 2009, I had a brain scan and in June I was told 'You've got a tumour and we need to get it out immediately.'"

After surviving the operation and a subsequent infection in her brain fluid, Lindsay is now enjoying life again. In October 2009, she began attending Headway Hertfordshire as part of her rehabilitation process. She went on to become a Games Maker at the London 2012 Olympics and since moving to Cambridge in September 2012, she has been working at Headway Cambridgeshire.

Having won four months' funding from Vodafone, she has set up a pop-up shop, recycling evening gowns, cocktail frocks and other accessories to sell to raise money for Headway Cambridgeshire.

I feel lucky to have survived

"GPs have a tough job, having to be experts in every medical condition. But I suffered for four years and I was lucky that during that time the damage caused by my tumour wasn't greater."

As part of Action for Brain Injury Week 2013, Headway has launched a new campaign designed to assist GPs improve the quality of information and support they provide to people presenting brain injury symptoms. A new resource for general practitioners provides information to help them diagnose, manage and refer patients with acquired brain injury.

"It's clear that GPs need help in diagnosing brain injuries and referring patients on for appropriate treatment. I hope all GPs sit up and take notice of this new resource. If it helps prevent just one person going through what I did, it will be worth it."


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