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It took doctors five months to discover girl's brain tumour.

Byline: Elaine Blackburne

A MOTHER has told how she nearly lost her daughter after doctors failed to spot she had a brain tumour.

Darcyana was 21 months old when she was finally diagnosed with the lifethreatening condition - five months after she was first taken to the doctors.

And despite months of morning vomiting, right-sided weakness and balance issues, it was only when her mother Debbie Aspery asked if her daughter could have cerebral palsy that a scan was done and the devastating diagnosis made.

Now her family are fighting to raise awareness of brain tumours and their symptoms. Debbie, from Eston, said: "Mothers know by instinct when their children are seriously ill and we can't always just accept that the medical profession will come up with the right diagnosis first time, or even the tenth time.

"Sometimes you just have to keep knocking on the door until someone finally listens."

Darcyana was born on July 13, 2013, to Debbie and her partner Gareth Walsh. Debbie said: "We were blissfully happy - Darcyana was reaching her key stages of development, often ahead of time."

Then suddenly in early December 2014, Darcyana could not get herself up off the floor. Her parents took her to A&E at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where she was treated for a fractured right wrist.

But as weeks went by the family grew concerned as Darcyana began to walk badly, falling over, and stopped using her right hand.

Despite a series of appointments with various doctors Darcyana continued to be unwell and by the end of March she was being sick every day and continuing to walk strangely and had her right hand in a tight fist.

Several more medical appointments followed at which various problems were found including an ear infection.

Debbie said: "Darcyana's balance was deteriorating and she wasn't the same happy, cheeky girl she had been just a few months earlier. It was such a nightmare!" As the little girl's condition deteriorated, Debbie searched her daughter's symptoms online and became convinced it was cerebral palsy. And after a further visit to her GP she was sent back to James Cook Hospital where Debbie told them of her fears. Darcy had a MRI scan a few days later on May 7. Debbie said: "Just 30 minutes after Darcy had been scanned, the consultant asked Gareth and me to come to a side room.

"I knew it was bad news. She told us our beautiful little girl had a four centimetre tumour. I collapsed into tears, thinking about all those months of being ignored. Why?" Darcyana was rushed to the Great North Children's Hospital at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where doctors said the tumour was causing fluid to build up in her brain pressing on nerves, causing the weakness in her right side. A day later Darcyana underwent a five-hour operation on the tumour. Debbie added: "We were distraught as a family. Everything was happening so fast - it was too horrendous to take in. I really thought Darcy wasn't going to make it."

But the little fighter came through her surgery and quickly began to regain movement and feeling in her right hand and arm and her speech became clearer.

The tumour was found to be a low grade polycystic astrocytoma. A small part of it could not be removed but would be monitored, but otherwise all had gone well.

But within 22 hours of being discharged Darcyana was readmitted with an infection and was also found to have fluid building again in her brain. Two more operations followed and the family returned home on May 28 only to be back six hours later when further problems meant two further operations.

Darcyana's fight was not over - she had now developed hydrocephalus and she had another operation to fit a shunt.

Soon after Darcyana's second birthday in July, her mobility decreased and on August 24 a scan showed the tumour had started to regrow and in September she started a year of chemotherapy. Debbie said: "We have been living through every parent's worst nightmare, but we have been comforted hugely by our local community, who have been so supportive. "If we go to the shops, everyone wants an update on how Darcyana is doing and they have even helped us raise money for toys for the playroom on the ward that cared for Darcyana."

| Debbie has now joined with the Brain Tumour Trust in raising awareness of the condition through its Wear a Hat Day held on March 24.


Darcyana with mum Debbie Aspery and dad Gareth Walsh

| Darcyana, right, was diagnosed with a brain tumour five months after she was first taken to the doctors. Left, parents Debbie Aspery and Gareth Walsh are raising

awareness of brain tumours
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2016
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