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My toothache turned out to be a brain tumour: Mother, 29, reveals she was 'ready to plan my funeral'


Emma Webster, 29, went to the dentist in April 2018 after complaining of toothache and was rushed through for root canal surgery. However, when the mother-of-one was still struggling with pain and blurred vision months later, she was referred for an MRI scan

A young mother claims she was ‘ready to plan her funeral’ after a shock brain tumour diagnosis which she thought was toothache.

Emma Webster, 29, went to the dentist in April 2018 after complaining of a sore tooth and was rushed through for root canal surgery.

However, when the mother-of-one was still struggling with pain and blurred vision months later, she was referred for an MRI scan. It revealed she had a non-cancerous brain tumour behind her right eye.

Ms Webster, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, underwent an operation that removed 70 per cent of the tumour, nearly a year after she initially complained of pain.

The administrator, who is expecting her second child next month, now receives an annual scan to check on its growth.

Speaking of the moment she received her diagnosis, Ms Webster said she was ‘ready to start planning my funeral’.

Ms Webster added: ‘I can’t believe I’ve now got to the stage I am — not always having to be at the hospital but instead we bought our new home, I am getting married in two years, and I’m expecting my second child in eight weeks. 

‘I never thought that would be the case back in 2019.’

Scans revealed that Ms Webster (pictured with her seven-year-old son Alfie) had a non-cancerous brain tumour behind her right eye

Scans revealed that Ms Webster (pictured with her seven-year-old son Alfie) had a non-cancerous brain tumour behind her right eye

Ms Webster (pictured after surgery), from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, underwent an operation that removed 70 per cent of the tumour nearly a year after she initially complained of pain

Ms Webster (pictured after surgery), from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, underwent an operation that removed 70 per cent of the tumour nearly a year after she initially complained of pain

The administrator (pictured with her fiance Kieran McGurk), who is expecting her second child next month, now receives annual scan to check the growth of the tumour

The administrator (pictured with her fiance Kieran McGurk), who is expecting her second child next month, now receives annual scan to check the growth of the tumour

WHAT ARE BENIGN BRAIN TUMOURS? 

A benign (non-cancerous) brain tumour is a mass of cells that grows relatively slowly in the brain.

Non-cancerous brain tumours tend to stay in one place and do not spread. 

It will not usually come back if all of the tumour can be safely removed during surgery.

If the tumour cannot be completely removed, there’s a risk it could grow back.

In this case it’ll be closely monitored using scans or treated with radiotherapy.

Symptoms include a new and persistent headache, seizures, feeling sick, drowsiness, mental or behavioural changes and speech and vision problems.

More than 11,000 people are diagnosed with a primary brain tumour in the UK every year, around half of which aren’t cancerous. 

Over-50s, those with a family history of brain tumours and those with genetic conditions are most at risk.

Treatment usually includes surgery to remove most of the tumour. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be needed to control the growth of remaining cells.

After surgery, most people can resume their normal lives. 

Source: NHS 

Ms Webster went to the dentist in April 2018 after suffering excruciating pain in her tooth.

Her dentist thought her pain could have been due to an infection at the centre of a tooth, cause by a build up of bacteria that live in the mouth.

She was already on the waiting list for root canal treatment — a procedure to remove the bacteria — so her dentist brought forward the surgery to see if that would help.

However, Ms Webster said the minor surgery ‘didn’t make any difference to the pain’ she was suffering, which spread to the top of her mouth and the tip of her nose.

She visited her GP, who thought she had neuralgia — stabbing face pain due to an irritated or damaged nerve.

For six months, Ms Webster received treatment for that condition — which usually involves taking an epilepsy medication that interferes with the nerve’s ability to send pain signals to the brain.

However, her symptoms continued to worsen and she started to suffer with blurred vision.

By January 2019, Ms Webster sought advice from another GP who referred her to the neurology department at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, where she underwent an MRI scan.

Three days later, medics called to tell her she had a benign (non-cancerous) brain tumour behind her right eye. 

Benign tumours are a mass of cells that grow relatively slowly in the brain. They tend to stay in the same place and don’t usually spread. 

Around 5,500 Britons are diagnosed with the tumours every year. Its symptoms include new, persistent headaches, vision problems and feeling sick all the time.

Ms Webster said: ‘I was told it was benign but I was ready to plan my funeral.

‘Brain tumours run in my family. My nana, Alice Travers, was just 55 when she died from a brain tumour in February 2001.

‘My parents were so worried that the same thing would happen to me.’

Ms Webster had on operation in March 2019, where surgeons removed 70 per cent of the tumour.

Benign tumours that can be completely removed during surgery will usually not come back at all. But those that can’t be completely removed need to be closely monitored in case they grow back or become cancerous.

Ms Webster (pictured with fiance Kieran McGurk on top of Tinto Hill in Scotland) is now taking part in Brain Tumour Research's Wake of Hope on September 24. Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: 'We're really grateful to Emma for taking part in the Walk of Hope. It's only with the support of people like her that we're able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like her who are forced to fight this awful disease'

Ms Webster (pictured with fiance Kieran McGurk on top of Tinto Hill in Scotland) is now taking part in Brain Tumour Research’s Wake of Hope on September 24. Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: ‘We’re really grateful to Emma for taking part in the Walk of Hope. It’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like her who are forced to fight this awful disease’

Ms Webster still suffers with root pain but is able to look forward to her future and is expecting a second child with Mr McGurk. She said: 'I really wouldn't have got through the last three years without such supportive family and friends. Kieran and Alfie have been beyond amazing'

Ms Webster still suffers with root pain but is able to look forward to her future and is expecting a second child with Mr McGurk. She said: ‘I really wouldn’t have got through the last three years without such supportive family and friends. Kieran and Alfie have been beyond amazing’

After surgery people may have ongoing problems, such as seizures and difficulties walking and peaking. But many can eventually resume their normal activities. 

Following the procedure, Ms Webster, her partner Kieran McGurk, 21 and their son, Alfie, seven, moved back in with her parents until she was able to become more independent.

She said: ‘I was in and out of hospital for months after. I had trouble with my balance and still had bad headaches.’

Eight months after her surgery she finally saw an improvement with her symptoms and has been able to buy a new home.

Ms Webster still suffers with root pain but is able to look forward to her future and is expecting a second child with Mr McGurk.

She said: ‘I really wouldn’t have got through the last three years without such supportive family and friends. Kieran and Alfie have been beyond amazing.

‘They still amaze me to this day with how strong they have been while standing by my side.’

Ms Webster is now taking part in Brain Tumour Research’s Wake of Hope on September 24. 

Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: ‘We’re really grateful to Emma for taking part in the Walk of Hope.

‘It’s only with the support of people like her that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like her who are forced to fight this awful disease.

‘This is a beautiful walk, and I would encourage anyone who is able to take part to do so. Not only is it a great social event in the outdoors but fundraising for it is a great way to support the work we do.’

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