Leeds woman left unable to walk after life saving operation to remove spinal tumour

Leanne Teague (right) and her nine-year-old daughter Mary (left)
-Credit: (Image: Leanne Teague)

A woman from Leeds is rallying to raise money to help her sister after surgery to remove a tumour left her unable to walk.

Roisin Donnelly, 35, has set up the fundraising page for her older sister, Leanne Teague, who underwent life changing surgery to have a tumour removed - but will now be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Leanne, aged 43, was diagnosed with a spinal tumour in July 2022 after experiencing severe back pain. The heart-breaking diagnosis was the second time that Leanne’s world had been flipped upside down by cancer, after she was previously diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013.

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Doctors uncovered that the tumour had wrapped itself around Leanne’s spine and that it was a particularly rare type of cancer, which couldn’t be treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, Roisin explained. She added: “The only option was for them to remove the tumour via surgery, but because of how close the tumour was to her spine, a lot of surgeons were reluctant to operate.”

Doctors told Leanne that if she were to go through with the surgery, then it was likely that it would result in a spinal cord injury which would leave her unable to walk and reliant on using a wheelchair. Roisin said: “She had two options; either not go through with the surgery and eventually she would have ended up in a wheelchair or have died, or go through with it.

“It took her a long time to decide what to do and Leanne and her husband spoke a lot about what would be the best option for them. She knew that if she went through with the surgery and survived the cancer then she would be in a wheelchair, but at least she’s alive.”

The family desperately tried to find a surgeon who would be willing to operate on Leanne. There was only one surgery team in the whole of the country - in Birmingham - who were willing to carry out the procedure.

In May 2023, Leanne underwent life changing surgery to remove the spinal tumour. The surgery saved her life, but the spinal cord injury has left her unable to walk. She was able to return home for a couple of weeks however after suffering from a number of infections, she has been recovering in hospital ever since.

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But Roisin says her big sister has always been the “strong one” out of the four siblings, and she “won’t let it hold her back”, despite knowing that at some point, the cancer will return.

“She gets to spend time with her husband and her daughter, aged 9, now. The doctors have told her that at some point, the cancer will come back - whether that’s in ten years, or twenty years from now, so she’s trying to live her life while she can.

“She’s still recovering in hospital, but if there is one person in this world I know that will not stop this from living her life to the fullest it’s my sister Leanne.”

Roisin has set up a GoFundMe page to raise £2,000 to try and help make her sister’s daily life a little bit easier. “It’s such a life changing operation - it’s a big change for everybody. They’ve had to sell her house and move to somewhere that they’re able to adapt themselves - but she’s here, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s alive - and that’s how she’s looking at it.

“I just wanted to help her - and I didn’t know what else to do. Even the money goes towards a wheelchair, skills course, or an electric wheelchair - all of that stuff is so expensive. I just felt like I needed to do something to try and help her daily life better.”

Any funds raised will go towards helping Leanne with medical equipment such as an electric wheelchair to help with daily life, being able to take her daughter to school or shopping trips, days out on the park. So far, £1,035 of the £2,000 target has been raised. “I’m amazed at how generous everybody has been - I can’t thank them enough,” Roisin said.

To find out more information about the fundraiser for Leanne, and to donate, click here .