Published: 20:44, 14 January 2022
| Updated: 20:59, 14 January 2022
A Kent woman woke up in hospital a week after having brain surgery with no memory of the previous seven months.
She knew nothing about Covid and didn't know that Boris Johnson was Prime Minister.
Now Karen Eggleston from Westerham is sharing her story to help raise awareness about brain tumours.
Mrs Eggleston suffered a seizure at her home and went into cardiac arrest in June 2020. She flat-lined for 10 minutes, until medics could start her breathing again.
She was subsequently found to have a grade 1 olfactory groove meningioma.
Although she had been exhibiting strange behaviour, it had been attributed to workplace stress, and the shocking discovery of her tumour was only made when scans were taken to check for any damage sustained during the 10 minutes her brain was without oxygen.
When she came to - a week after having surgery, - she had no memory of the seven months leading up to her collapse. She knew nothing of the Covid-19 pandemic, not many other things in the months prior, such as the election of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
She said: “I remember that in early November 2019, I went to bed not feeling very well after having had an argument with my then partner of 10 years.
"The next thing, I was roused by a voice saying: ‘Take it easy, you’ve had a head trauma.’
“To my surprise it was June 10, 2020, and I was in Kings College Hospital, London, and really didn’t know what was going on.
"My eyesight had been affected and I was struggling to see and finding everything really confusing.
Mrs Eggleston said: "I had a complete memory blank of the previous seven months, no recollection at all."
She said: "It was like waking up at the start of a John Wyndham novel in the middle of a pandemic I knew nothing about.
"Everyone was coming at me with swab sticks and wearing masks, and my head was completely shaved, having previously had really long hair.”
The 50-year-old organisational development consultant found herself completely blind in her left eye, visually impaired in her right eye, and suffering confusion and hallucinations.
She said: “People refer to life events as feeling like they’ve had the carpet ripped out from under them; well, I’d lost the carpet, the floor and everything else beneath me.”
As well as coping with her new physical limitations, Mrs Eggleston, a mother-of-one, also had to deal with the fallout from the personality changes she had experienced before the discovery of her tumour, which unfortunately had included the breakdown of her relationship.
She said: “My biggest heartbreak was finding out that my fiancé didn’t even want to talk to me. "It’s a shock because my behaviour came out of the blue, but I’ve had to go through the grief of a relationship break-up as well as everything else, without knowing what happened."
She said: “The personality change and how it’s impacted my life is hard to accept; all I can do is say I’m sorry for my behaviour during that time and explain that it wasn’t me, it was my tumour.”
Although part of her tumour had to be left in during the operation, after three radiotherapy sessions, it seems to have disappeared, and she was given the all-clear just before Christmas.
She is now back in full-time employment - with the Brain Tumour Research!
She said: “I want to do what I can to help raise awareness of brain tumours as well as raising funds for research so fewer people will have to face having their lives turned upside down, like mine.”
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet historically just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
Charlie Allsebrook, the community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “Karen went through a terrible ordeal leading up to the discovery of her brain tumour and has had to make a lot of adjustments since, but she continues to show great resilience and determination.
"We welcome her support and look forward to her involvement in future fundraisers as we continue to fund vital research into brain tumours.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK.
To find out more about how you can support Brain Tumour Research, visit here.