Brain tumour agony for mum who went private after facing 56-week NHS wait

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Natalie Cawsey, 35, had been suffering headaches, weak legs and numbness for three years and thought she might have multiple sclerosis.

But in July, the mum-of-three was told she would have to wait 56 weeks for an NHS neurology appointment because of Covid-related delays.

Luckily Natalie’s dad gave her the £3,000 to pay for a private appointment and she got the brain tumour diagnosis in the same month.

She has a stage two oligodendroglioma – a slow-growing benign growth – on her left frontal lobe.

Natalie, of Dunfermline, Fife, said: “I had been to the doctor’s several times over a few years. I first had a bad pain in my head when I coughed. I then had some pain in my leg and then I started muddling some words.

“I was referred to neurology but it was at the height of the pandemic and I was advised the wait for an appointment would be about 56 weeks.

“So we decided to pay for private care. My thoughts were I had MS or something similar. So it was a bit of a surprise to get a phone call to say it was a brain tumour.”

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Natalie’s surveyor husband Gareth, also 35, was working off-shore but flew home to look after Noah, seven, Flynn, five, and Asher, one.

Stage two oligodendrogliomas are not always fatal, but patients must stay under lifelong medical supervision to monitor their growth.

Natalie had surgery at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to remove her tumour in August and is due to have a post-op scan later this month.

But she said: “You can never be in remission because it can come back.

“I do think about what might have happened if I had waited for an NHS appointment. They’re doing their best but I’m concerned, on the diagnosis side, something might be missed.

“But after the scans, I was shipped straight to the NHS for treatment and they have been incredible.”

Natalie’s family have kept her smiling. They are to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research with a sponsored walk dressed as tigers.

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