Young brain tumour survivor joins awareness campaign

After five years, Shane Gunby, 20, has made a good recovery from the brain tumour which doctors missed at first.
After five years, Shane Gunby, 20, has made a good recovery from the brain tumour which doctors missed at first.

A Pinxton man who survived a brain tumour is backing a childhood health awareness campaign after doctors first misdiagnosed his symptoms.

Shane Gunby, now 20, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012 after suffering months of health problems which GPs dismissed as hay fever, headaches and exam stress.

Now he is speaking out for HeadSmart, a campaign run by the Brain Tumour Charity, to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of childhood brain tumours.

Shane said: “I know from my own experience how important it is for doctors and parents to recognise when a child might have a brain tumour.

“HeadSmart has had an impact already but there are still too many people out there who don’t spot the warning signs.”

The campaign includes pocket-sized symptoms cards and a website detailing the warning signs.

These include vomiting, balance problems, unusual eye movements, increasing head circumference in under-fives and loss of vision across all age groups.

Shane had been suffering with delayed puberty and growth for some time, but developed further symptoms including eye pain, headaches and fatigue.

He said: “I spent a lot of time sleeping. I would wake up, go to school, come home and go straight to bed. It didn’t feel normal, but I’d just adapted to it. It became a routine.

“I started to lose so much weight and my headaches were so unbearable I just wanted to sleep. It was the only time that I felt at peace. People would always comment on how dreadful I looked.”

Unsatisfied with the GPs’ diagnosis, Shane and his mum Clare went to hospital and convinced doctors to run tests which found an aggressive pineal germinoma tumour.

He began radiotherapy, and after extensive rehabilitation is doing well.

Shane said: “I can’t complain because I’m here, and I’ve got the amazing support of my family. I’ll never be able to thank the doctors that discovered my tumour enough.”

n For more details, visit www.headsmart.org.uk.