A man who suffered a seizure while on holiday abroad said his life totally changed when he discovered he had a brain tumour.
Joe Holmes, who lives in Okehampton, Devon, was taken to hospital after the terrifying black out during his vacation.
He was initially told not to worry as it was a one-off episode, but a year later he suffered two more back-to-back seizures, Plymouth Live reports.
When he attended Derriford Hospital, doctors diagnosed him with a brain tumour and he is now undergoing chemotherapy.
His family said their world "fell apart" when they got the news, but Mr Holmes said the experience has helped him become stronger.
He said: "Despite everything that I’ve gone through, I’ve become a stronger person because of my ordeal and have learned a great deal about myself."
The 29-year-old spoke after meeting scientists searching for a cure during a lab tour of the University of Plymouth, where the charity Brain Tumour Research funds a research centre.
The telecoms engineer said: "I’ve always been fit and healthy, so my brain tumour diagnosis came completely out of the blue. The first indication that something was wrong was when I had a massive seizure, while abroad.
"I was taken to A&E, where I was told it was a one-off episode and to see my GP when I returned home.
“It wasn’t until a year later, in March 2019, that I suffered two back-to-back seizures, which gave doctors a huge cause for concern. I had several tests and scans at Derriford Hospital, before I was diagnosed with a brain tumour.”
Joe has had surgery and radiotherapy since his diagnosis with a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma.
He had debulking surgery in May 2019, but was told that his tumour was more aggressive than consultants first believed.
He underwent seven weeks of radiotherapy, before starting chemotherapy treatment in October 2019.
Accompanied by his parents Karen and Roy, and partner Emma, Joe met scientists at the university.
The team, led by Prof Oliver Hanemann, has a world-leading track record in researching low-grade brain tumours occurring in teenagers and adults.
He added: “It was a pleasure to attend the lab tour and I learned so much about the fascinating research being undertaken into the disease. It’s given me a lot of hope.
"Despite everything that I’ve gone through, I’ve become a stronger person because of my ordeal and have learned a great deal about myself. I’m trying to maintain a positive outlook on life and talking openly about it helped me a lot.
“The hardest part of my illness was losing my driving licence, but I’m fortunate to have a lot of support from my employer, who arranged lifts so I can still do my job.”
After the lab tour, Joe and his family placed a commemorative tile on a Wall of Hope at the university.
The tile represents the £2,740 it costs to fund a day of research and celebrates the fundraising achievements of mum Karen and her colleagues, who have raised more than £3,000 in Joe's name.
Karen, who works in finance at Launceston College, said: “When Joe was diagnosed, my world fell apart. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by a team of amazing colleagues, who could tell I was struggling. They decided to fundraise for Brain Tumour Research to show their support, and each completed a 50-mile walk throughout September 2019. We also held a a charity bingo night.
“It was a fantastic idea and I got on board with the challenge too. We were really proud to have raised such a great amount.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK.
Mel Tiley, community fundraising manager for Brain Tumour Research in the South West, said: “Joe’s story reminds us brain tumours are indiscriminate and can affect anyone at any age.
"What’s more, historically less than 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue."
Joe is sharing his story to mark the launch of Brain Tumour Awareness Month in March.
The month culminates in Wear A Hat Day on Friday, March 27 – an event now in its 11th year, which has raised more than £1.25 million to help fund the fight against the disease.
To donate in support of Joe, go to https://bit.ly/2wapZ1F
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