A 30-year-old British woman who blamed her severe headaches and chronic fatigue on being a mom of two young children – one of whom is less than a year old – was devastated to learn her symptoms were caused by an orange-sized brain tumor and not by what she thought was "baby brain."
"I'm going through chemotherapy now to buy more time, and although I know my diagnosis is terminal, I'm fighting for every extra minute I can get with my kids,” Claire Curtis told SWNS, a Britsh news agency.
In April 2018, just months after giving birth to her son Charlie, Curtis began suffering from headaches, which she blamed on being busy with two young children (Curtis and her partner Tom also have a 4-year-old daughter named Millie).
Not long after, however, the headaches were paired with vomiting.
“I just tried to get on with life as a mom but when I started throwing up every morning... I realized I couldn't ignore it anymore,” she said.
"I remember one morning Millie called me from her bedroom, and as I went to climb the stairs, I suddenly felt really dizzy and I couldn't see properly,” she continued. "I told my mom about it and she made me go to [an] optician.”
The optician noticed certain abnormalities during her check-up and encouraged her to get an MRI, which she underwent weeks later.
“Waiting for the results was absolutely horrific and sent my stress levels through the roof,” she recalled.
Eventually, Curtis received the MRI results and soon after was diagnosed with a Grade 3 malignant brain tumor. The news left her “absolutely stunned,” she told SWNS.
"It wasn't until a few days later that it really sunk in and I just couldn't stop crying at the thought of dying and leaving my kids behind,” she said.
In October of last year, Curtis underwent brain surgery so doctors could remove as much of the tumor as they could. The procedure was followed by nearly seven weeks of radiation and a year of chemotherapy. She was given a three to five-year prognosis.
"It's not a case of if the tumor will come back, it's just a matter of when it will come back, which is the hardest thing,” she said. "Right now, I'm just focusing on making memories with my family — we went to Disneyland Paris earlier this year, which was amazing.”
"Tom has been so supportive throughout all of this, making time for me and the kids as well as working full time, and I can't wait to marry him next year,” she said, noting they plan to wed in July.
"I just want to spend every day doing something with Tom and our children,” she added. "My diagnosis has shown me that every moment is precious. My family means the world to me and I just want them to be happy and to make as many memories as I can."