After enduring approximately 30 medical assessments, an 11-year-old girl initially diagnosed with common ailments like sickness bugs and migraines was ultimately diagnosed with a brain tumor. Tia Gordon’s journey involved multiple visits to GPs, A&E, and calls to NHS 111 before she was admitted to the hospital as an emergency case. Imogen Darby, Tia’s mother and a pharmacy dispenser, revealed that Tia’s glasses prescription was altered four times before the tumor was finally identified.

Over the course of three years, Ms. Darby persistently sought assistance for Tia’s migraines and vomiting, only to be informed that the wait for an MRI scan would stretch to at least eight months. However, it wasn’t until Tia’s balance and mobility were significantly impacted that an emergency scan was granted. The scan revealed a 3.5cm brain tumor.

Tia Gordon, 11, ended up being admitted to hospital as an emergency despite previous trips to GPs, A&E and calls to NHS 111

Despite prior visits to GPs, A&E, and calls to NHS 111, 11-year-old Tia Gordon found herself admitted to the hospital as an emergency case.

Ms. Darby, residing in Northampton, recounted, “I was informed that Tia was suffering from stomach bugs and migraines. Initially, due to it being summer, the advice was simply to increase her water intake. After about a year, she received a diagnosis of migraines and was prescribed paracetamol for relief. Subsequently, she was given additional medication, and her final diagnosis in January of this year, from pediatricians, was migraine with associated sickness.”

“Throughout more than three years, I repeatedly sought medical attention for Tia. We encountered refusals for MRI scans, emergency pediatric consultations, and I resorted to calling 111 and visiting A&E. Tia underwent changes to her glasses prescription four times, received medications, and consulted with a specialist. However, it wasn’t until she became unable to walk that she received the necessary care.”

“Symptoms first appeared during the Covid lockdown in March 2020 when Tia began experiencing vomiting.”

It was only when Tia¿s condition started to affect her balance and ability to walk that she was given an emergency scan

An emergency scan was only arranged for Tia when her condition began to impact her balance and mobility, prompting urgent medical attention.

Tia migraines and vomiting, for three years before being told the wait for an MRI scan would be at least eight months

For three years, Tia endured migraines and vomiting before being informed of an eight-month wait for an MRI scan. Her bouts of sickness escalated from occurring every few months to monthly and then with increasing frequency.

In the months leading up to the diagnosis, Ms. Darby recounted taking Tia to a GP around 10 times and contacting NHS 111 on three separate occasions. “I also sought help at A&E, where I was told she had a stomach bug and advised to let it run its course,” she added.

However, Tia began experiencing new symptoms, including a stiff neck, which doctors attributed to her sleeping position and referred her to a physiotherapist. Despite these explanations, Ms. Darby harbored a sense that something was amiss with the way Tia held her neck, a concern shared by other family members.

A scan showed she had a 3.5cm brain tumour. It was a pilocytic astrocytoma ¿ the most common type of childhood brain tumour

An imaging scan revealed a 3.5cm brain tumor, identified as a pilocytic astrocytoma, which is the most prevalent type of childhood brain tumor.

Her mother, Imogen Darby, a pharmacy dispenser (pictured left) said Tia also had her glasses prescription changed four times before the tumour was spotted

Imogen Darby, a pharmacy dispenser (pictured left), revealed that Tia had undergone four changes to her glasses prescription before the tumor was finally detected.

“The consultant mentioned considering an MRI for peace of mind, but cautioned about the lengthy waiting list,” she explained.

During the period from November 2023 to January 2024, Tia experienced vomiting nearly every morning, with daily episodes occurring.

In the days leading up to Tia’s hospital admission, her coordination appeared compromised, evident when she accidentally spilled milk down the kitchen sink without noticing.

A concerning call from Tia’s school prompted Ms. Darby to contact the pediatric consultant while at work, who advised immediate action. Consequently, they headed to Northampton General Hospital that evening.

At the hospital, Tia’s condition further deteriorated, as she exhibited difficulty walking in a straight line.

Ms Darby first noticed Tia¿s symptoms during the Covid lockdown in March 2020 when Tia started being sick

Ms. Darby initially observed Tia’s symptoms emerging during the Covid lockdown in March 2020, coinciding with Tia’s onset of vomiting.

A CT scan unveiled Tia’s tumor, identified as a pilocytic astrocytoma, the most prevalent type of childhood brain tumor. Subsequently, an ambulance was summoned to transport her to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Following a rigorous 10-hour procedure, surgeons successfully excised the benign tumor. Reflecting on the experience, Ms. Darby remarked, “It was quite a harrowing day. During the surgery, they managed to remove 96 percent of it.”

Since the operation to eradicate the growth — which Tia affectionately dubs her “astronaut tumor” owing to its astrocytoma classification — the young girl has experienced profound fatigue and occasional balance issues.

Since surgery to remove the growth ¿ which Tia calls her ¿astronaut tumour¿ due to it being an astrocytoma ¿ the youngster gets very tired and can still be unbalanced

Following the surgery to extract the tumor — affectionately dubbed her “astronaut tumor” by Tia due to its astrocytoma nature — the young girl experiences pronounced fatigue and occasional balance issues.

She will have an MRI scan every three months for the next five years and is undergoing physiotherapy, as well as having regular meetings with neurologists

She will undergo an MRI scan every three months for the next five years, alongside receiving physiotherapy and attending regular meetings with neurologists.

In the meantime, Tia eagerly anticipates returning to her favorite activities.

“We all call her Dr. Doolittle; she absolutely adores anything related to animals,” Ms. Darby remarked. “She enjoys dodgeball and has a deep passion for reading.”

Cameron Miller, director of external affairs and strategy at the Brain Tumour Charity, expressed well wishes for Tia’s ongoing treatment and gratitude to Imogen for sharing her story.

“Unfortunately, stories like Tia’s are all too common,” Miller noted. “For many brain tumor patients, diagnosis delays are far too frequent, highlighting the urgent need for a National Brain Tumour Strategy.”


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