Melanie Hennessey was diagnosed with two brain tumours when she was in hospital after the birth of her daughter.
However, by then she had been telling doctors about her symptoms for ten years.
The cancer was hidden, difficult to detect, and it took the start of a new life to reveal the threat to the older one.
The number of cases like Melanie's is going up, but funding for new ways to tackle them is going down.
According to one charity, Brain Tumour Research, only a tiny proportion of the money spent on cancer research in this country is spent on the brain.
Despite all this, progress is being made - particularly in treatments for children - and particularly in Newcastle.
The research unit at the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary is one of the biggest of its type in Europe.
Melanie has had surgery and radiotherapy to deal with her tumours and she now fundraises herself for research.
However, it could take a more radical rethink of funding to give everyone in her position the best chance of survival.