[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
'I have a brain tumour'
BBC News Online science and technology writer Ivan Noble was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in August.

He has undergone surgery to identify the tumour, and now faces a course of radio- and chemotherapy. Ivan is determined to regain full health, and to share his experiences with others.

My life and that of my family has just been turned upside down.

Last month I was a healthy young man in my mid-thirties looking forward to working part-time, taking care of our baby daughter and making plans for next year.

Now I have just been told that I have a fast-growing tumour inside my brain.

There are no good brain tumours to have, but if there were, mine would not be one of them
Reading between the lines I understand it is something that an older man would have little chance of beating.

With youth, determination and a lot of support on my side, I intend being luckier.

The discovery began with a week of increasingly unpleasant headaches, bad enough to wake me early but fading off into the morning and then coming back in the evening to leave me sleepy.

By the end of the week they were strong enough to make me sick and I was with my GP, who sent me to Accident and Emergency at the local hospital.

The care there was impressive and fast. I am very grateful to all the staff there.

Within hours I had had a CT (computed tomography) scan of my head and it was at that point that a charming young doctor told me that they had found something "interesting".

Stupidly, I felt flattered.

Unusual among young

Brain tumours are very unusual at my age, he said, and it was much more likely that I had picked up a nasty infection on a recent reporting trip to west Africa.

That infection had probably found its way to my head and was causing a swelling which needed dealing with swiftly. A minor brain operation and lots of antibiotics and rest would do the trick.

On a bank holiday weekend the staff had to work hard to find a neurosurgical hospital bed for me, but they did and after a short ambulance ride and a few anxious hours I was operated on at two in the morning by a cheerful and confidence-inspiring surgeon.

At nine I got the news I had not wanted.

The fear some days was paralysing
There was no bug, no infection, just a little fluid and what looked like a tumour.

It would take four days to analyse the small fragment they had removed, the surgeon said.

Four days later an uncomfortable doctor gave me the news.

There are no good brain tumours to have, but if there were, mine would not be one of them. But it is not the end of the road, he said.

He left us to interpret that and I was allowed home, first for the night, then for good.

Less than a day after hearing my diagnosis in the grim "room of doom" interview suite, I was with a consultant oncologist discussing my treatment.

He told me exactly what I wanted to hear: "You've got everything to fight for, and we're going to throw the book at your tumour."

The shock has been enormous. I have spent many hours wandering around starting to make cups of tea or fill the dishwasher and then just forgetting that I had started.

And the fear, for some days, was paralysing. I often had the urge just to lie down and sleep.

But, as the days have gone by, I have my nerve again.

Talking and talking, to friends, family and anyone who would listen has helped.

Many questions

So too have all the medical friends and contacts who have provided encouraging titbits of information.

We have asked many, many questions of the doctors and that, too, has always helped.

I have not asked what my chances are and I do not want to know, for the simple reason that I think no-one knows.

The doctors understand what I have and how to treat it, but no-one can know how well the treatment will work.

All the statistics in the world will not tell them what is going to happen to me, and I am grateful for the uncertainty and hope that provides.

The National Health Service has been very good to me. It saved my life when I was 12 years old and it was there for me this time when I needed it.

Its staff were without exception professionally excellent and there were many instances of kindness and compassion for which I will always be grateful.

But as an organisation it has now delivered one big disappointment.

I need radiotherapy with some urgency, and the best estimate I could get from the NHS was a six week wait.

I have medical insurance through my employer and I am lucky enough to now have started privately arranged treatment on Wednesday, less than two weeks after my diagnosis.

There are thousands of cases like mine every year in this country and most will not have that option.

My blessings are countless and I could not be in a better position for what I have to face now.

I am determined to beat the tumour and to see my little girl grow up.


Dec 2004 - Jan 2005
Aug - Nov 2004
May-July 2004
Apr 2004
Mar 2004
Feb 2004
Jan 2004
Nov/Dec 2003
April-August 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific