Boy, 15, left in torment over inoperable brain tumour treatment delays due to Covid


The parents of teen Noah Herniman say they are not angry about the situation despite knowing the outlook would be a lot more positive had it not been for the Covid restrictions

Shelley and Noah Herniman
Shelley and Noah Herniman say Covid has caused his treatment to be be pushed back

A 15-year-old boy was diagnosed with an inoperable benign tumour at the core of his brain after having his cancer treatment delayed because of the Covid backlog.

Noah Herniman’s routine annual MRI scan was cancelled by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board due to pressures they were facing from the pandemic.

The teen was told it wasn’t certain he would survive after his annual scan was cancelled, meaning a tumour had been left to grow in his brain.

Months later Noah, who suffers from neurofibromatosis meaning tumours grow on his nerve tissues, was told the devastating news.

Noah, well-known in Chepstow, Wales, for his outstanding contribution to fundraising since he was a young child, has fantastic family support but his mum refuses to find blame and thanked the NHS for everything the do.

Noah Herniman has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour
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Media Wales)

Remembering the day Noah was diagnosed with a brain tumour, Noah’s mum Shelley said: “We had a phone call in May saying they needed to see us and they told us on June 30 that they had found a shadow and it was an inoperable brain tumour. It was an absolute shocker.

“Nigel [Noah’s dad] wasn’t allowed in with us because we were only allowed two in due to Covid. In hindsight, had I have known what we were walking into, I’d have gone in with Nigel and we’d have told Noah.

“It felt so cruel. We had watched the football the night before and there were 40,000 in a stadium, yet the three of us couldn’t see the doctor to receive that news together.

“It was a real shock for the both of us and Noah didn’t really know how to digest it himself. He’s just amazing. He asked what treatment was available and she said ‘all we can do is chemotherapy’.”

The family refuse to blame anyone for the situation
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Image:

Media Wales)

Royal Gwent cancelled his annual scans because of the pressures of the pandemic
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Shelley Herniman)

Due to where the tumour is in his brain, Noah cannot eat food properly as the stem of the brain controls the ability to swallow. He is now fed through a feed line.

Shelley said in hindsight he had been struggling to swallow since 2019, but signs it could be a tumour on the brain were missed.

Shelley says she does not blame anyone for the position her family now find themselves in.

“In 2020 everything was on hold and the scan wasn’t deemed urgent so he didn’t have it,” Shelley explained.

Noah is well known in the area for years of charity work
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Image:

Shelley Herniman)

“I had chatted with our GP, who is brilliant, about Noah’s gag issue – but a tumour never came up in conversation.

“Now, looking back, I think the signs were there. He was lethargic, he wasn’t eating well, but we put it down to him being at home.

“The heartbreaking thing for us is that now the damage could potentially be done. I have been so angry about that – but how can I blame anyone? There are thousands of people in our position due to the pandemic.

“I have been angry, trying to get my head around how if Noah had that scan in 2020 he could be well ahead with the treatment.

“Would we be in a better position had the lockdowns not happened? Yes, of course.

“In hindsight I wish we had pushed [for the scans earlier], but we accepted that it was part of Covid and I knew how bad it was in our hospitals. I’ve lost friends to Covid, my own sister works in a hospital locally as a nurse, my niece and nephew work in hospitals.

“I knew the pressures and I think that made me less pushy for the scan for Noah. Now we know that the scan could have been a game changer for us though.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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