Mum's condition went undiagnosed for 26 years despite showing symptoms aged 9

Clare 12 years post diagnosis
Clare 12 years post-diagnosis -Credit:Brain Tumour Research© SWNS

A woman's brain tumour went undiagnosed for more than two decades - after she started showing symptoms aged nine. Clare Rapley, 48, was told hearing loss in her right ear was caused by a brain tumour, 26 years after her symptoms began.

The mother-of-three, from south Devon, was told by doctors that there were no concerns despite her struggles as a child. Former Lidl worker Clare said: "My parents took me to the GP who told them there was nothing wrong with my hearing despite struggling through my studies."

"Even into my adult life, a GP suggested to get my ears syringed but when I turned up to have it done, they said my ears were as clear as could be. It got to a point where I wasn't sure if I was imagining it."

"Eventually, a colleague at the time encouraged me to go for a hearing test after he thought I was ignoring him on the shop floor." In April 2011, after failing a hearing test, Clare was sent for an MRI scan - which uncovered a 5.5cm tumour and two cysts growing on her brain. She said: "The neurosurgeon told me without treatment, I had a maximum of two years to live."

"I struggled to digest the news. The following day, I had a stroke and spent a month in Derriford Hospital where I had an operation to remove the tumour."

Clare was told hearing loss in her right ear was caused by a brain tumour
Clare was told hearing loss in her right ear was caused by a brain tumour -Credit:Brain Tumour Research© SWNS

As a result of her 17-hour operation, Clare was left with life-changing injuries including impaired vision, facial paralysis and epilepsy. Clare added: "I had to have the corners of my right eye sewn together to allow me to blink."

"This changed my appearance, but I'm now used to the way I look. I struggle with depth perception, coordination and balance so I use a walking aid to help me move safely."

Despite her injuries, Clare is partway through an Open University master's degree in forensic psychology after graduating with a 2:1 in the subject in 2021. She said: "My brain tumour has changed the course of my life. I left school at 15 having had a difficult time growing up due to my hearing loss, but it has made me more determined to succeed in everything I try."

Now Clare is taking on a month-long challenge to raise awareness of the disease. She's doing the 200k in May Your Way in aid of the charity Brain Tumour Research after she was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma in August 2011.

Clare and her daughter Rebecca
Clare and her daughter Rebecca -Credit:Brain Tumour Research© SWNS

Clare plans to walk in the company of her Maltipoo, called Percy, to achieve the 200km distance throughout the month, beginning on May 1 to help raise awareness of brain tumours. Clare said: "I'm out with Percy all the time. We cover about five miles each day so I'm confident I can complete this challenge."

"It means a lot to be able to share my story. I don't want other people to suffer. We must invest in research into brain tumours if we are to find less invasive treatments and ultimately a cure to save future generations."

Louise Aubrey, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research, said: "Sadly, Clare's story is not unique. One in three of us knows someone affected by a brain tumour, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours since records began in 2002."

"We're determined to change this, but we can't do it alone. We're really grateful to Clare for her support and wish her the best of luck with her challenge." Participants can walk, jog, run, cycle, swim, or combine activities; so there really is something for everyone. Anyone wishing to register for 200k in May Your Way, can visit"

To donate to Brain Tumour Research via Clare's challenge, please visit: