Toddler with golf ball-size brain tumour says doctor dismissed symptoms
A mum, whose toddler daughter has a brain tumour, took her to the doctors seven times before anyone took her life-threatening condition seriously.
Little 22-month Olivia’s symptoms were dismissed as "daydreaming" but mum Lisa Taylor knew it was more.
The tot kept losing her balance, had a lazy eye, would stare into the distance for ten seconds at a time and repeatedly covered her ears as if in pain.
She actually had a huge tumour pressing on her optic nerve, which led her to going rapidly blind.
The tumour is currently inoperable due to the severe risk to Olivia’s remaining eyesight.
But doctors initially said Olivia was staring into the distance because she simply had her head in the clouds.
Mrs Taylor, 33, said: "I was noticing little things so was taking her to the doctor quite a lot.
"Eventually she started getting a bit of a squint in her right eye and this lazy eye was her main symptom.
"We took her to an epilepsy specialist because she kept having blank outs where she stares for about ten seconds – doctors said she was daydreaming.
"I just knew something wasn’t right.
"It was mother’s instinct and so I kept taking her back.
"I went to A&E a couple of times and to the opticians."
Eventually Olivia was diagnosed with a grade one hypothalamic chiasmatic glioma on January 4.
The non-cancerous tumour arises in and around the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain.
She began chemotherapy on January 17 but had lost all her vision by February.
She was scared to play alone and often sought her mother’s hand for reassurance.
There is a cyst around the tumour, and on March 22 surgeons operated on it to reduce pressure on her optic nerve.
That teamed with the chemo has meant some of Olivia’s missing vision has returned.
In the meantime, her family have raised almost £60,000, setting up a ‘Go Fund Me’ page shortly after she was diagnosed with donations reaching nearly £40,000.
A fundraiser held by family and friends last month raised a further £18,000.
The fundraising was also boosted with help from Olivia’s grandfather, Tony Currie, a former England footballer, who played in the 1973 World Cup qualifier against Poland.
Lisa, from Sidcup, London, said: "The money provides Olivia with full time care, helps cover hospital and travel expenses, and allows us to adapt the house and buy her sensory toys.
"Some people have given money and just said to treat Olivia however we want – go on holiday, make memories.
"People are so kind, I can’t believe it."
The money has also allowed Olivia’s parents to research the best treatment options for the future that may not be available in the UK and on the NHS.
But she has been approved for Proton Beam therapy if things don’t continue to progress positively.
Lisa added: "Everyone that meets her just loves her. She is the happiest, smiliest, most personable child.
"She’s still my happy little baby girl, she’s just going through a terrible time.
"I have never known anyone to be so resilient – she’s just an inspiration."
Olivia can’t go to nursery anymore but there is hope that she will go to a school which accommodates children with visual impairment.
Lisa said: "She is finding her way around again, she’s getting more confident on her feet and when we went back to the ophthalmologist they described it as a miracle and that there is some sight there, it’s ever so slight but in the left eye."
The family has received a huge amount of support from their local Conservative MP, James Brokenshire, who was diagnosed with a lung tumour just two days before Olivia.
Lisa attended Parliament with him two weeks ago to witness a debate about cancer treatment and early diagnosis, from which James drew on Olivia’s story.
Lisa is an advocate of Headsmart, a campaign of The Brain Tumour Charity, which seeks to raise the awareness of early symptoms of brain tumours.
Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said: "Olivia’s smile and her courage in the face of all she is going through is an inspiration to every one of us."
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