Jake's story

17-year-old Jake and his mum, Bal, are currently self-isolating at home and will continue to do so for at least 12 weeks.

Like most teenagers, my son Jake was a very social, independent boy before an operation to remove a brain tumour caused his brain injury.

Over the years, Jake complained of bad headaches and would often throw up as a result of them. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it must be a bug or a bad case of food poisoning. Jake would take paracetamol to stop the sickness and that would be it until the next time. He went to the doctors a few times, but we were told he had low iron levels and nothing serious was flagged.

In January 2019, the headaches and sickness didn’t stop, so I took Jake for another blood test. I also took him to the opticians as Jake’s football coaches had noticed he was having problems with his vision. At the appointment, the optician saw there was pressure on his nerve.

They referred us straight to Moorfields Eye Hospital where we had a fast track appointment the next day. There, Jake had a CT- scan and this was when my world was turned upside down. They found a brain tumour.

Two days after finding the brain tumour, Jake had an operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital to remove it. When he woke up, he couldn’t walk or talk. He was in such a state and was being fed by a tube.

But slowly, he started to come around. It was 10 days after his operation when he began to talk again. He was moved to University College Hospital (UCL) in London where he had 30 rounds of radiotherapy.

Then, in May 2019, Jake arrived at The Children’s Trust for intensive rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy. To begin with, Jake needed support for everything. He was reliant on a wheelchair for his mobility and needed help from his therapists to take a few steps.

But by the time we left The Children’s Trust in December 2019, Jake was able to walk on his own and only relied on his wheelchair for long journeys. His confidence sky rocketed too! When we were at the hospital his mood was very low but I noticed as soon as we arrived at The Children’s Trust, Jake’s mood completely changed.

Now, Jake and I have been in self-quarantine at home for two weeks and it has been a mix of emotions. I’m very anxious about passing anything over to Jake so I stay in the house all day and try to keep busy. We go on regular walks together - the only time I have left the house on my own was to pick up Jake’s medication.

This week, Jake will be having his last chemo session which will be couriered in. As Jake has a low immune system from the chemo, we’ve been told he cannot return to college for at least 12 weeks. It’s such a shame as Jake only went back to college in February and was really enjoying seeing friends and taking part in sports sessions.

Unfortunately, we’re also not able to carry on with physiotherapy as the sessions have been cancelled due to current circumstances. Since staying at home, we have only been able to have one session via video link.

Despite all this, we’ve had a lot of support. Our local council dropped us off a hamper full of essentials and friends and family have been doing our food shopping. Jake is so positive, always smiling and making the best out of everything. He isn’t letting the situation get him down and his goal is still to become a footballer.

It has been a long road and we still have a way to go but Jake is the bravest young man I know. Whilst he feels he’s been robbed of some special time, I have no doubt that once everything is back to normal, he will achieve every new goal he sets himself.

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