Woman who shouted in sleep due to ‘nightmares’ diagnosed with brain tumor

A woman was stunned to learn the cause of her “nightmares” that left her waking up exhausted.

For over a year Catherine Cassidy, 32, had nightmare-like episodes as she began to fall asleep or shortly before she woke up.

However, she was oblivious until her partner Jim told her that she was shouting out and shaking in her sleep, Liverpool Echo writes.

Catherine put the night terrors down to work related stress or fatigue for months until her family convinced her otherwise.

Her mum pleaded with her to see a GP, who diagnosed her with epilepsy, prescribed tablets and kept increasing the dose.

Catherine Cassidy, 32, in Liverpool during her three-month visit for treatment
Catherine Cassidy, 32, in Liverpool during her three-month visit for treatment

But Catherine’s night-time seizures become more frequent, leading the GP to send her for an MRI that uncovered a type of brain tumor called an Anaplastic Astrocytoma that can cause memory problems.

Catherine said: “We were all working from home, so I was actually thankfully with my partner at home and he was sat next to me when I got the call.

“When my GP said to me, ‘I’ve just looked at your MRI, I’m so sorry, you’ve actually got a brain tumor’, I just passed the phone to Jim.

“The worst part for me was thinking, ‘I have to tell my parents this, and I have to tell them about Facetime because of lockdown’.”

She said it was “soul destroying” seeing tears in her parents’ eyes as she told them, without even a hug, that their youngest child had a brain tumour.

Catherine said: “It’s hard because you get to a point where you think, ‘I want to take care of my parents and I want to help them however I can’. I enjoyed that aspect.

“When it got to the point where I couldn’t, it was soul destroying.

“I felt like I was becoming a young child again, like a toddler who’s running around all the time and needs your attention so it doesn’t break something, fall over or get hurt.”

Catherine came to Liverpool for a successful, eight-hour brain surgery to remove the tumour.

She spent a further three months there, living in an apartment near Liverpool ONE as she received intensive radiotherapy at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s new hospital in the city centre.

Catherine said: “I received 36 rounds of radiotherapy from the team at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

“The team were amazing and made a very strange situation that bit more bearable.”

Back home on the Isle of Man, Catherine is still receiving treatment from Clatterbridge in the form of chemotherapy tablets that should get rid of potentially dangerous cells.

Catherine has no idea how long the slow-growing tumor was in her body, but she’s now within reaching distance of a return to normality as her last dose is due this month.

Catherine Cassidy's last radiotherapy treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Center in Liverpool
Catherine Cassidy’s last radiotherapy treatment at The Clatterbridge Cancer Center in Liverpool

The golf player is now encouraging people to not be embarrassed about getting medical help.

She said: “If anyone at any point is unsure about something, they should just get it checked, even if the answer is that you’re okay and it’s XYZ that can be dealt with. It’s better than getting it late.”

Jill Sokratous, a neuro oncology clinical nurse specialist at The Clatterbridge Cancer Center NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Catherine is a great example of how geography shouldn’t be a barrier to receiving excellent cancer care.

“Not only was she able to access the care she needed, but provisions have been made to allow her to continue to receive her chemotherapy treatment back in the Isle of Man as well as ongoing neuro oncology specialist support, which is available to all patients with a brain tumor diagnosis.

“I would encourage anyone with symptoms they are concerned about to contact their GP. The care and support you need will be available to you, regardless of where you live.”

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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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