A former brain tumour patient has praised the hospital teams that saved her life and enabled her to participate in the Great North Run – less than six months after her life-saving surgery.
Emma Stainthorpe, 33, was constantly suffering from sudden headaches, sickness and a dizzy feeling in 2022.
Following a prolonged period of illness, Emma was referred to The James Cook University Hospital where surgeons diagnosed her with a benign brain tumour after discovering a four-centimetre tumour on her brain stem.
Emma, who works as a marketing coordinator at Teesside University, was overwhelmed with the sudden change in her life.
She said: “There was a lot of uncertainty with the surgery and me and my family were worried.
However, Mr Anil Varma (neurosurgeon) came as a ‘knight in shining armour’ in my life as he held my hand and helped me calm down and explained every minute detail of the surgery in the simplest terms.”
Led by his neurosurgery team, anaesthesia unit and ODP (operating department practitioners), Mr Varma performed an intense ten-hour surgery to remove Emma’s tumour in February 2023 – which was a success and saw 97% of her tumour completely removed.
Reflecting on her time spent in hospital post-surgery, Emma said: “Although the surgery was successful, it was hard for me to slow down and try to recover as I’m usually living life at 100 miles an hour.
“However, this hard journey was made much simpler thanks to Dr Varma and the team at James Cook, my family and friends and colleagues at the university.
He and his team were brilliant, caring and compassionate and ensured that I was made comfortable during my time in the hospital.”
This episode of illness has shaped Emma’s thinking towards life and has given her a new perspective to look at everything with positivity and a sense of appreciation.
“Moreover, everything that happened in my life has only encouraged me to appreciate life more and made me live my life to its fullest,” said Emma.
Finally back to work at Teesside University with renewed energy and hope, Emma has been fundraising for the hospital’s Neurological Research Fund, which is primarily used to further enhance care for brain tumour patients.
Mr Varma, who is delighted with the progress Emma has been making since her surgery, said: “Emma has done remarkably well to reach a fitness level where she did the Great North Run this year and raised funds for the Brain Tumour charity and the Neurological Research Fund for our department and the trust.
“This is a fantastic achievement from Emma, who found the courage and determination to overcome a major surgery in addition to building the strength to plan and execute this initiative.
“The money she has raised through this great effort will help develop the services and support the research which will benefit others with brain tumours.”
“Donations received for the Neurological Research Fund are a significant contribution and we are very grateful to Emma for the tremendous effort in running the Great North Run and raising this money in such a short time after her surgery,” added Mr Varma.
Not only did Emma raise money for the hospital but she has also been sharing snippets of her brain tumour journey on social media.
Her motivational tales on the platform have encouraged a local brain tumour patient to reach out to Emma for her advice and she has been supporting and guiding the young patient throughout her illness.
To donate to the Neurological Research Fund, get in touch with Our Hospitals Charity here: https://www.southtees.nhs.uk/charity/.