A GUTSY landlady today told how a brain tumour saved her life.
Gemma Banks, from Silksworth, needed a nine-hour operation to remove the tumour - the size of an apple - which then uncovered a brain aneurysm that doctors said would have killed her.
The 32-year-old went to accident and emergency at Sunderland Royal Hospital in February complaining of suffering from headaches and sickness for a month, and refused to leave until medics gave her a scan, which revealed the tumour at the front of her brain.
She was kept in hospital for two weeks until the swelling went down, before being transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where she had the operation.
And it was then medics discovered the potentially fatal aneurysm a swelling in the blood vessels in the brain, which could have burst at any time.
Gemma, landlady of the Vane Arms, Silksworth, said: “I was in hospital for six weeks altogether.
“The only blessing was that the tumour turned out not to be cancerous.
“But the doctors said to my mam, ‘thank god she had the brain tumour so we found the aneurysm.’
“My brain was exposed for so long during the operation that I was also at high risk of developing epilepsy, so now I have to take anti-fit and anti-seizure drugs for the rest of my life.
“I also still have to go for MRI scans every three weeks because they couldn’t completely remove the tumour as it was too close to a blood vessel.
“The wound from the operation is not completely healed either, and I have had plastic surgery and everything to try and close it.”
Gemma, who is single, says that she could not have got through her ‘horrible’ year without the support of mum Carole Snell, 55, who works in the medical equipment library at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Gemma said: “I couldn’t have got through this year without her. She has been so supportive. I had to move in with her so she could take care of me.”
Now in recovery, Gemma is fighting her illness to raise money for a charity that she says has helped to save her life.
She said: “The Northern Brain Appeal provide the hospital with so much of the equipment they use to treat brain tumours, that when I decided I wanted to raise money to help with treatment it had to be them I helped.
“Without the equipment Northern Brainwave Appeal provide I wouldn’t have been able to receive my treatment. I would say they helped save my life.”
On Saturday December 8, Gemma will hold a fundraising evening for the appeal.
Entertainment will be provided by Mark ‘Elvis’ Nixon who will perform a 45 minute ‘Elvis’ set, and drag act Tessy Tassle will also perform.
There will also be a raffle with gifts from Sunderland AFC and Ice watches.
Gemma said she hopes the money will raise as much money as possible for the charity, which has already raised more than £1million for those who are severely ill through head injury following stroke and neurosurgery.
“All donations are greatly received,” she said
“The evening is free, we just ask that people give a donation.”
The event at the Vane Arms, Vane Street, Silksworth at 8.15pm on Saturday December 8.
For more details, tel: 07962 384817