A mum shaved off her hair after her daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Mum-of-four Vicky Williamson shaved all her hair off after gruelling cancer treatment caused her daughter, Holly, now 10, to lose her hair.
Vicky, of Reading in Berkshire, said: “When Holly started to lose her hair, I wanted to do something to support her and shaving my head was a way of helping Holly feel less alone during her treatment.”
Holly was fine until April 2017, when she started complaining of headaches and became unsteady on her feet. Vicky, and her husband Darren, 46, took Holly to the doctors where she was deemed clinically well.
But two months later Holly suffered a seizure on holiday in Weston-Super-Mare. When her condition worsened, her parents took her to Reading A&E, where an MRI scan revealed she had a brain tumour and she was rushed into surgery.
Vicky, a full-time carer, said: “Holly went from having headaches and being sick at night to not being able to touch her nose or walk in a straight line. By the time we got to A&E her body was limp and lifeless and ten minutes after they finished the MRI scan, doctors told us she needed to have surgery immediately.”
Holly, a pupil at Aldermaston C of E Primary School in Reading, was rushed to the John Radcliffe (JR) Hospital in Oxford where surgeons successfully removed her tumour and she was diagnosed with an ependymoma – which are often slow-growing.
Vicky said: “This is something that had likely been growing for years on Holly’s brain and that was a scary thought. What made it even more real was the doctor telling us that if they’d found it 24 hours later, she could have gone blind, and another week could have killed her.”
Six weeks after the operation, Holly received proton beam therapy in Florida, USA.
After a routine scan in 2019, when Holly was seven, the family was given the devastating news that the cancer had spread to her spine, and she had six-and-a-half weeks of gruelling radiotherapy.
Vicky, who is also mum to Abby, 19, Sophie, 16 and Zoe, seven, said: “When we found out about the specks on Holly’s spine, we sat the children down and told them what was happening and that was really hard. There is a sense of guilt that you feel as a parent. I didn’t know anyone who had gone through a brain tumour diagnosis until Holly and I felt isolated at times.”
A follow-up scan last month showed no re-growth of Holly’s cancer. Due to the intrusive nature of the treatment which affected Holly’s pituitary gland, it is likely she will be on hormone treatment throughout her teenage years.
Now Vicky is taking part in Brain Tumour Research’s Jog 26.2 Miles in May Challenge to help raise money and awareness of the disease.
She said: “I wouldn’t want another family to go through what we have been through as a family. Treatment needs to change, and we need to know more about brain tumours.
“I am really looking forward to giving this challenge a go, to prove to myself I can do it.”