A MUM has urged people to get symptoms checked after doctors discovered she had a rare brain tumour the size of a golf ball.

Nicola Clark, 43, did not realise she was having blackouts caused by the tumour until relatives pointed it out in 2011.

She underwent tests for two years and baffled doctors could not find the cause of the seizures.

In 2013, she was wrongly diagnosed with epilepsy.

Initially, she was having seizures once every few months, but they became so frequent that she was having at least two per week.

In 2018, she sought a second opinion from a neurologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

It was only then an MRI scan revealed a mass which was later confirmed to be a tumour the size of a golf ball, which was a Grade 1 ganglioglioma.

Gangliogliomas are most commonly diagnosed in children and are slow-growing.

As previous tests hadn’t revealed Nicola’s tumour, doctors think it was growing as her symptoms increased.

Nicola, an IT analyst from Burnham, said: "The seizures had an impact on every part of my life.

“I couldn’t drive for seven years, I had to give my driver's licence up because of them.

“The doctors thought I had been living with it since childhood and that it had grown slowly since then and even more since my symptoms began.

“They think my seizures were getting worse because the tumour was growing.

"Despite their best efforts, it just wasn't picked up on any test or scan."

Gazette: Nicola Clark (centre) with daughter Amelia (left) and her husband Matt (right)Nicola Clark (centre) with daughter Amelia (left) and her husband Matt (right)

Nicola first noticed her symptoms when family members pointed out she would zone out of conversations for a few minutes and not be aware she was doing it.

She was also becoming tired but put it down to fatigue from work and a busy lifestyle.

She said: “None of the tests I had at first picked up any abnormalities and I was diagnosed with epilepsy because they thought that was what was causing them.

“I just accepted it, but when they got worse, my mum and I did some research and I wondered if it could be something else.

“I had mixed feelings about the diagnosis - half of me was relieved and half of me was scared."

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After having brain surgery in 2018, Nicola returned to work six months later and even learnt Mandarin to challenge herself and her brain.

She is now studying for a degree in Humanities.

She added: “My neuropsychologist told me after a few months that my memory was getting better and joked that I should learn Mandarin. So I thought ‘why not?’

“It gave me a challenge to see how my brain was functioning after the operation.

“After brain surgery, you’re left with a traumatic brain injury and I wanted to replace a negative with a positive and develop a new skill.

"Studying has helped to take my mind off things. It hasn’t been easy as I have had fatigue after my surgery so working and looking after Amelia is enough to tire me out."

Nicola, who met her husband Matt in 2013, wants to urge others to be aware of the symptoms and get them checked out.

She added: “I originally put all these symptoms down to the stressful events which were happening in my life at the time.

“Brain tumours are often a hidden condition as are their side-effects, so people may think we’re just being lazy when we actually have debilitating fatigue.

“If there is more awareness and support within society then we can talk more openly about this instead of people avoiding the subject or brushing it off when they feel unwell."