'We wake up every day thinking how lucky we are' 

Wayne Chessum was diagnosed with a brain tumour after becoming ill when he returned from a family holiday. Wayne's wife Debbie tells the story of his diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

"It was in January 2008 when we had just returned from a holiday in Florida that Wayne first started to feel poorly. He thought it was a cold. Wayne went to the GP a number of times continuing to feel unwell and was treated for an inner-ear infection.

"Then he spent the whole of one weekend in bed and didn’t want to eat or talk. We visited the GP, who was sufficiently concerned to refer him to Grantham & District Hospital, where Wayne had a CT scan. They found a tumour in his brain. This was a massive shock to us; however, Wayne felt relief that they had found something wrong, as he had been feeling so unwell for a couple of months.

"Wayne was transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, which specialises in neurosurgery, where he underwent a craniotomy to remove what was diagnosed as a benign haemangioblastoma in his cerebellum. While Wayne was in hospital, he didn’t see his children for seven days. We had left our young daughter Hollie with her grandparents when Wayne was referred for the CT scan.

"The following year, we had another devastating blow, when a scan revealed that there was some regrowth of the tumour – it is pretty much impossible for surgeons to be absolutely certain whether they have managed to remove all traces of a brain tumour, particularly when trying to access an area as deep into the brain as the cerebellum.

"Wayne was recommended for stereotactic radiosurgery at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. After the radiosurgery, we were told it was a waiting game. The procedure results in the tumour swelling initially, and we were told that this would take around two years to settle down. In fact it wasn’t until three years later, in October 2012, that the neurosurgeon at Nottingham was able to tell Wayne that his tumour was static, with no regrowth – the radiosurgery which took place in Sheffield appears to have been a success, but he will continue to have MRI scans every 12 months. We now hope to find that subsequent scans will show the tumour reducing.

"Since Wayne’s diagnosis and craniotomy, he has had to retire from his job as a prison officer and he is now self-employed doing painting, decorating, kitchen and bathroom fitting, tiling, fence building and many other jobs. He struggles with balance and also with co-ordination in the dark, but despite these difficulties, he has succeeded in getting back to playing cricket – one of the biggest loves of his life!

"Before Wayne was diagnosed, he was extremely fit and he believes this dramatically assisted the speed of his recovery. Wayne has always been an enthusiastic sportsman and played all sports. He maintains a high level of fitness to give himself the best chance of recovering from further treatment if required.

"Until Wayne discovered he had a brain tumour, we were oblivious to how common this condition was and have since come across two other cases just in our village: one of a boy (who is now a teenager); and another, of a lady who has since passed away.

"We never realised how prevalent brain tumours were or how devastating it is when you hear that a loved one has been diagnosed with this condition. His neurosurgeon told Wayne that if the haemangioblastoma had been detected 10 years earlier, then Wayne would probably no longer be with us. Fortunately, medical understanding has moved on a little. With more investment in research, who knows where we could be in terms of treatments for brain tumours in 10 years?

"Wayne now tries to live life to the full and enjoy every day; he commented that it is not all bad news – since his surgery, he no longer suffers from the effects of hangovers if he happens to overindulge! We wake up every day thinking how lucky we are that we are all still here, and every time we go to the hospital we thank the surgeons for what they have done for Wayne."

This case history was provided by Brain Tumour Research.

Page last reviewed: 18/03/2015

Next review due: 18/03/2017