A mother has defied the odds after being given just six weeks to live.
Lauren Neville, 32, was told in 2018 she had depression and anxiety when she developed what she now knows to be focal seizures – a general strange feeling that’s hard to describe – up to 15 times a day.
The mother-of-two, from Burnley in Lancashire, only had a brain scan after blacking out on a motorway and coming round in a ditch, crediting the crash for “saving her life”.
She was diagnosed with a grade four glioblastoma multiforme, a fast-growing tumour of the brain or spinal cord.
Despite being given just six weeks to live, Neville has endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy over the past two years – all while training to be a mental health nurse.
Although her future is uncertain, Neville is “still fighting” and “determined to live life to the full”.
“Being diagnosed with brain cancer feels like going to hell and back, and it can be a very lonely place,” said Neville.
“I want people to know there is more to me than this brain tumour. I am not just a girl with cancer. I am a mum, a partner, a sister and an auntie.
“I am still here and still fighting. I am determined to live my life to the full, however long it may be.”
Neville’s symptoms started as mild headaches, before developing into recurrent focal seizures.
“I was back and forth to the doctor, and for about 18 months I was told it was all down to depression and anxiety,” she said.
Things took a “sinister turn” in July 2018 while Neville was driving to work.
“I suddenly blacked out,” she said. “Fortunately there was no one else in the car.
“I came round to find myself in the ditch and, miraculously, managed to walk away from the mangled wreckage of my car, which was wrapped around a tree.”
Following tests and a scan, Neville was diagnosed at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, where she was doing her nurse training.
“It was just completely overwhelming and very surreal,” she said.
“I was told I had six weeks to live.”
Having defied her initial prognosis, Neville had surgery at the Royal Preston Hospital to remove 40% of the tumour.
“Having surgery for a brain tumour is like walking along a tightrope,” she said.
“On one side is life and, on the other, death.
“Things had gone as well as they could but the recovery was horrendous
“I was bedbound for a long time and it took me weeks to learn to walk again.”
Neville had more of the tumour removed six months after her diagnosis. She also began a 14-month course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, during which time her father died of cancer.
“It was an extremely tough time during which I struggled with depression,” she said.
Neville began “eating her way through recovery”, which saw her weight go from 8.5st (119lb) to 12st (168lb).
Although well enough to continue her training, Neville still endures fatigue and confusion.
“I am determined not to be a statistic, but to keep going with the best quality of life I can have for as long as I can,” she said.
Throughout the ordeal, Neville has relied on the support of her partner, Daniel, and children - Lucy, 11 and Ollie, four.
“My children have kept me going,” she said. “The thought of leaving them and my daughter having to explain to her younger brother what mummy used to be like is too much to bear.”
Neville is due to have another scan in September. Determined to stay positive, she plans to take part in the Walk of Hope on 26 September to raise £300 ($398.51) for Brain Tumour Research. Donate here.