Gareth at different ages

Mum bereaved by glioblastoma calls for awareness of similarities between brain tumour and mental illness symptoms

Barbara's son Gareth passed away from a glioblastoma brain tumour in January 2019

A mum bereaved by a brain tumour is campaigning for more awareness of possible similarities between some psychiatric and brain tumour symptoms.

Retired teacher Barbara Everard’s son Gareth was 38 when he passed away due to a glioblastoma brain tumour in January 2019 – just 14 months after he was diagnosed.

Gareth had received mental health treatment since the age of 17, following a diagnosis of schizophrenia and psychosis.

He was diagnosed with the stage four tumour on his left frontal lobe in November 2017, having spent much of his life in psychiatric hospitals.

Barbara and her heartbroken family believe Gareth may have survived if any possible symptoms of his brain tumour had been picked up earlier.

They are calling for more awareness of how brain tumours can cause problems like personality changes, communication difficulties and psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

Barbara, from West Sussex, said: “Gareth didn’t want this to happen to anyone else.

“It is absolutely agonizing for me to think he could have been around for at least for another 5 years, and his quality of life could have been much higher.”

Gareth’s family say he first felt something was wrong inside his head in 2014.

The symptoms of his mental illness included verbal outbursts, trembling, dribbling, numbness, pins and needles and difficulties communicating.

Gareth was discharged from hospital in October 2017 but experienced a seizure and collapsed the following month.

He was taken to A&E, where he was given an MRI scan and the glioblastoma was discovered.

Gareth underwent a three-hour operation in November 2017 to remove part of the tumour but was readmitted to hospital in December 2018 and died five weeks later.

Barbara said: “Although Gareth’s health improved for a while after the operation, I find it difficult that his original diagnosis was never reviewed or the possibility of anything other than a mental health issue considered.

“I want to raise awareness of the potentially overlapping symptoms between mental health issues and brain tumours.”

Gareth’s hospital apologised to Barbara, and told her Gareth’s case will influence the training their staff receive.

Categories: Campaigns, Real life stories

Published: 25 May 2022