Eight-year-old Scots girl diagnosed with brain tumour ‘smiling all day’ on first day back at school

The mum of an eight-year-old girl diagnosed with a brain tumour told of her first day back at school in nine months – and said she was smiling all day.

Katie Paterson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2020 after she began being sick, got clumsy and developed a pain in her back.

Brave Katie has since been through two gruelling surgeries, radiotherapy and is now undergoing chemotherapy. But she was delighted to be able to go back to school last month and be reunited with her friends.

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Proud mum Elaine, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, said: “She got to go in for a few hours to meet her new teachers and to touch base with her class and her friends.

Elaine, Graham and Katie Paterson, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2020.Elaine, Graham and Katie Paterson, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2020.
Elaine, Graham and Katie Paterson, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2020.

“We really felt that lifted her quite significantly, so that was a lovely moment.

“Katie was really desperate to feel normal and she wanted to have something that she was in control of, so going back to school was what she really wanted.

“We worked closely with the school and the hospital, and because she's still having active treatment, she can't go every day. But we came to a compromise and she was allowed to go for two hours.

“The school have been absolutely amazing and supportive, and the teachers have been in constant contact.

Katie Paterson before her first day back at the school.Katie Paterson before her first day back at the school.
Katie Paterson before her first day back at the school.

“Katie loves to draw, so her teacher had planned an art lesson.

“When she came out, she just said: 'Mum, I've smiled all morning. I loved it.' It was a momentous moment."

Katie was taken to Wishaw General Hospital on December 14 last year when she became unwell.

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Due to covid restrictions deputy headteacher Elaine had to wait in the car while dad Graham took her in.

But she was quickly called in after a CT scan revealed Katie had a huge brain tumour.

Elaine said: “They had the results of the scan, but they didn't want to give them to Graham without me there as well.

“I rushed back to the hospital, and we were given the awful news that the scan had revealed a tumour at the back of Katie's head.

“It was so big, it had completely blocked the flow of her brain fluid, which was causing pressure on her brain.

“She was suffering from hydrocephalus and had to be blue-lighted immediately to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

“I felt complete numbness. The fear that came over me was like nothing I'd ever felt before. It was like I was living somebody else's life.”

Katie was rushed for surgery the following day to relieve the pressure in her head but was told she would need further surgery.

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On December 18 she underwent a craniotomy to debulk the tumour – which lasted 10.5 hours.

On Christmas Eve, Elaine and Graham were told that although all of the tumour had been removed Katie would face another 10 to 12 months of cancer treatment.

She was discharged from hospital on December 30 and her six-week course of radiotherapy at The Beatson - West of Scotland Cancer Care started on January 18.

She started a course of chemotherapy in April and it is expected to last until Christmas 2021.

On August 30 Katie returned to Clarkston Primary School in Airdrie for the first time in nine months.

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