Our Member of the Month this month is Elsie Mangham. In July 2022, Elsie was diagnosed with a brain tumour. The tumour has unfortunately caused Elsie to lose all of her sight in both eyes, and although she is now registered blind, she has not let this stop her one bit. ‘She has taken everything in her stride and been an absolute superstar!’
Towards the end of 2021, Elsie experienced episodes of illness characterised by symptoms such as waking up feeling unwell, nausea, and trembling. Although she would recover after a few hours, the persistence of these episodes prompted her parents to seek medical attention. Initially attributed to a bug by doctors, the recurring incidents led to a visit to A&E. Here, it was suggested that her symptoms might be linked to dietary factors, and she was advised to keep a record of her food intake.
In July 2022 during the school run, an alarming incident occurred when Elsie appeared disoriented, describing a vision issue. A visit to the opticians revealed a significant impairment in one of her eyes. Subsequent examinations at A&E did not identify any immediate issues, leading to the conclusion that the problem was related to her eyes rather than a neurological concern. The following day, a visit to the eye clinic revealed swollen optic nerves, prompting a return to A&E, where she underwent a CT scan.
The scan revealed a distressing discovery—an identified mass on Elsie’s brain. She was urgently transferred to Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham for further evaluation. Exhausted but remarkably composed, Elsie underwent a 15-hour surgery, spending the subsequent 12 nights in intensive care due to blood loss during the procedure. Despite the challenges, Elsie’s recovery was marked by her resilient spirit and sense of humor.
While the surgery could not completely remove the tumor due to safety concerns, a biopsy was conducted, yielding inconclusive results. Further tests determined that Elsie was dealing with a high-grade malignant brain tumor, though its exact nature remained uncertain. Subsequent scans indicated regrowth, leading to the decision for an intensive course of chemotherapy, followed by six weeks of intense radiotherapy in Nottingham.
Staying at the charity house ‘Billy’s House’ during the week, Elsie embraced the treatment with enthusiasm, aided by the supportive staff at the city hospital. Despite facing setbacks, including the loss of sight in her other eye, Elsie’s recovery continued with remarkable resilience. Following the completion of chemotherapy, scans showed improvement, allowing her to transition to oral chemotherapy at home, minimising hospital visits.
Despite the challenges, Elsie persevered through the treatment, enduring nights in the hospital, blood transfusions, and various tests. Her positive response to the therapy was evident in improved scans, leading to a continued regimen of home-based chemotherapy and regular scans every three months. As Elsie embarks on this ongoing journey, her strength and determination shine through, offering hope for the future.