Lisburn Girl Danielle Battled With A Brain Tumour In Her Early Teens Now She Raises Awareness For Illness

WHEN teenager Danielle McGriskin was diagnosed at just 14 years old with a brain tumour she was almost relieved.

For more than a year the Lisburn girl had been plagued by symptoms from headache, nausea and visual disturbances to memory problems and dizziness.

Eventually after seeing a number of medical professionals including a neurologist she was finally diagnosed with a grade 2 Astrocytoma Tumour which was situated at the top of her brain stem.

She was also told that she had hydrocephalus – water on the brain and has had so many operations to relieve it she says she’s “lost count”.

On top of the multiple operations Danielle, now 18, has also attended Bristol Children’s Hospital for treatment.

Danielle McGriskin

Danielle McGriskin

She said: “In June 2013 I got a biopsy for my brain tumour and then six weeks of IMRT radiotherapy which began in November 2013 due to my brain tumour becoming active.

“However, my latest scan has shown that my tumour has shrunk by a total of three millimetres, which is excellent news.

“Because it took me a long time until I was diagnosed I felt a sense of relief, as I thought we know why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling and now I can focus on getting better.

“But I was also extremely frightened and scared, hearing medical terms I had never heard of before made everything very confusing.”

After the diagnosis Danielle’s life changed completely.

She explained: “It’s had a major effect on my life both challenging and positive. I had to give up dancing which I had been doing since I was five years old. I was unable to attend school full time throughout my GCSE years due to surgery and debilitating symptoms but I managed to pass six GCSE’s.

“I was unable to complete my A levels as I had to move to Bristol for Radiotherapy. But I took what I called a gap year and focused on my charity and fundraising work.

“I was unable to keep up with friends socially such as shopping due to nausea, dizziness and unable to walk far.”

EllenMacArthurTrip - DanielleMcGriskin5

It’s been a rough ride for Danielle but she says it’s only made her stronger and vows not to let her illness get the better of her.

“Last September I started college doing a Business Studies course and manage to attend one to two days per week” she said, adding: “I’m getting stronger and with new medication, learning to manage my fatigue.

“I don’t look back and remember all the bad times, I can look back and appreciate the opportunities I have been given and the amazing people I have met.

“The hardest part of it all was moving away from home for six weeks with my mum to receive the radiotherapy in Bristol, but I knew I was in the best hands.

“My family, friends and medical team in Bristol have been very supportive, without them I don’t think I would be able to ‘Stay Strong, Keep Positive… Always’.”

Despite being in a stronger position now than when she was diagnosed Danielle is still battling her tumour.

She said: “I still have my brain tumour, but my scans are now yearly, my next one being in October. I am also under a neurologist for managing my pain.”

But as well as battling her own illness she’s helping to raise awareness for the illness in general.

“Since being diagnosed with my brain tumour and hydrocephalus it has made want to spread awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours” she said.

“There’s the same chance of someone getting meningitis as you do a brain tumour, yet not many people are aware of the symptoms of brain tumours as they are meningitis.

“This is why I’ve been supporting HeadSmart, in their mission to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain tumours in children and young people, by giving their symptoms cards to GPs, schools both primary and secondary, and other public places.”

As a result of her dedication and survival of her own illness she Danielle was invited by her CLIC Sargent Social Worker Simon Darby to join a group of young people from Northern Ireland to take part in a four day sailing trip around Largs, Scotland with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust with other young people aged 18-24 from across the UK.

And for someone who had never been sailing before, she took to it like a duck to water.

Danielle said: “I had never been sailing before and have always wanted to give it a go, so I was very excited when Simon told me about the trip. I was looking forward to the sailing and being out in wide open water with the feeling of being free.

“I was also looking forward to meeting other people my age who have been through this tough journey, and understood what it feels like emotionally and to also talk about our experiences, and most of all just having a good time.

“The Ellen MacArthur Trust have given me a new experience which I am very appreciative off.

“Sailing is something I have always wanted to do, but never thought it would happen, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust has made this happen for me.”

About the Author

Tina Calder
Journalist, commentator, author and content creator specialising in showbiz, entertainment, business, trade, human interest and lifestyle.