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Tonbridge dad's campaign for brain tumour awareness

By Natalie Tipping

Ross Butcher became increasingly concerned about his first son’s health when he started having vacant periods and was lethargic.

Oliver’s lips also frequently turned blue, and his parents had no idea what could be the cause.

After a number of visits to their GP, the family got referred to Kent and Sussex Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. It was here doctors discovered an abnormality on the three-month-old’s brain.

He was rushed to King’s College Hospital in London, where a CT scan confirmed it was a brain tumour.

“Brain tumours are fairly rare, I suppose – you don’t hear of many people having them. And then all of a sudden our little boy had one, it was shocking.”

"Brain tumours are fairly rare, I suppose - you don't hear of many people having them. And then all of a sudden our little boy had one, it was shocking," the 38-year-old father explained.

“The surgeon at King’s was very keen to remove it as soon as possible as it was potentially very aggressive.”

Oliver underwent surgery eight days after diagnosis, and a biopsy revealed it was benign.

Unfortunately, as it had wrapped itself around an artery that had to be cut during the procedure, Oliver has been left paralysed down the right side of his body, a disability he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. He has also developed epilepsy.

Mr Butcher said: “Never in a million years would we have thought that our son’s first illness would be a brain tumour, and I think people need more education on the signs and symptoms because you just don’t know what could happen.

“If Oliver’s tumour was not picked up when it was he could have had a seizure and who knows what could have happened. Now I’ve got a wonderful 10-year-old little boy who lives life to the full.”

The Tonbridge father-of-two is putting his voice behind the HeadSmart campaign, backed by The Brain Tumour Charity, Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Signs to look out for include fits, balance or coordination issues, headaches, abnormal eye movements and blurred or double vision.

Visit the HeadSmart website.

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