Mum who got food poisoning on holiday ‘lucky’ as it led doctors to find 30-year-old brain tumour

By Staff 5 Min Read

Theresa Hardwick was diagnosed with an egg-sized low-grade brain tumour, which medics say may have been growing for 30 years, after becoming ill with food poisoning on holiday in France

A mum who began vomiting on holiday says she counts herself lucky after the bout of food poisoning led to the discovery of a deadly brain tumour.

Theresa Hardwick, 58, was holidaying in Brittany, France, when she began vomiting and talking “nonsense”. She was rushed to Central Hospitalier de Saint Brieuc and diagnosed with an egg-size low-grade brain tumour, which medics say may have been growing for 30 years.

Doctors had to perform a seven-hour operation to remove the tumour after she had a 90-minute seizure. They were able to remove it all and she has been stable ever since. Mum-of-two Theresa, from Petersfield, Hampshire, said: “Had I never been sick, my tumour might still be undiscovered. The doctors think my brain went into spasm from the effects of the food poisoning.”

Theresa had been suffering from food poisoning caused by mussels before she was admitted to hospital and had been violently vomiting for 24 hours. But on July 4, 2019, her husband, Paul, 56, noticed she wasn’t making any sense while talking and quickly became unresponsive.

He called an ambulance, which rushed her to a hospital in Brittany for further examinations – before she was transferred to St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, back in the UK. But she had a 90-minute seizure at Chichester, which revealed a low-grade meningeal tumour – which is non-cancerous.

Theresa said: “There were no warning signs before I was sick with food poisoning. I had been vomiting for hours non-stop and was extremely dehydrated when I had the seizure.” Doctors removed the tumour in surgery on August 21, 2019, which lasted for seven hours and took place at Spire Hospital, Southampton.

Now, Theresa is stable – but needs to have annual scans to ensure the tumour is spotted if it does return. Her daughter, Anna, 25, a finance assistant, plans to climb 5,859m up Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Brain Tumour research. Theresa said: “I feel lucky that my tumour was operable and I’m now monitored with regular brain scans. However, I understand there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to brain tumours.”

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