A Scottish dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour during a dream family holiday to Florida.
Ayr-based Barry Reid, 32, collapsed at a Florida waterpark. His diagnosis would change his life
Last October Barry, his wife Gillian and their two young daughters, along with his in-laws, travelled to Florida for a long-planned dream holiday.
Then, twelve days into their dream holiday, while spending a day at Universal’s Volcano Bay park, Barry collapsed in one of the park’s waterslide queues
When he woke up, he found himself in ambulance, blue-lit to local A&E and wired up to a host of machines.
Barry said: “I had multiple scans at the hospital in Orlando. As the results came back it was the last thing I thought the doctor would say: ‘Mr Reid, the MRI scan has shown a frontal lobe brain tumour in the front left of your brain’. This is the point my life changed.”
Barry had no previous symptoms other than several headaches he put down to new LED lighting at the high street story where he’s a retail manager. Doctor’s just prescribed anti-migraine over the counter medicine.
After his seizure in Orlando, medics stabilised Barry and gave him anti-seizure medication. He was then flown back home, along with a medical escort for safety, five days later on 25th October.
Immediately on returning, Barry was taken straight to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to hand over his notes form the American doctors and discuss the next step.
Just two weeks later and Barry was facing an awake craniotomy brain tumour surgery to remove as much of the 3.5cm mass as possible.
“I was terrified of brain surgery, obviously, I was physically shaking. The day before my surgery was due, the anaesthetist took time to show me around the operating theatre to calm my nerves, explaining the proceedure, showing me the table I’d be lying on – everything to calm me down. I’ll always appreciate that.
“I knew I had to put my trust in surgeon Mr Grivas and his team,” said Barry. “Over ten hours later, the operation was complete. Mr Grivas had done an amazing job and only left 3mm of the tumour in and he was happy with the way the operation had gone.
Barry’s operation involved him being put under anaesthetic but the surgeon would have to wake him during the operation to perform verbal tests to make sure none of Barry’s healthy tissue was being damaged.
“As they were working nearer to the speech part of my brain, they said I started stuttering and that’s how they knew they could go no further.
“At one point, the doctors said I was chirping away like a budgie during the awake part of the craniotomy.”
“I can’t remember that, so maybe not a bad thing!”
Doctors discovered from this that Barry’s tumour had grown from a grade 2 to grade 3 tumour. Five days later, Barry was allowed home to be with his family just a day before his 32nd birthday.
Dealt yet another below, Barry was admitted back to the Neuro ward two weeks later with a serious skull infection, this time having to spend over six weeks in hospital, missing the Christmas holiday with his wife and children.
“That was really tough. Luckily I had a six hour window with my family just on Christmas day between treatment for the infection – just enough time to open presents with them!”
Following chemotherapy treatment for the remaining 3mm of tumour, Barry has spent the last eight months working hard on his recovery and returning to work.
“I would like to thank neurosurgeon, Mr A Grivas and all the ward 63 staff for looking after me and my family during my time in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“All the staff were really friendly and always ensured I received the best possible care.”
He now faces more radiotherapy in mid-February 2019 to shrink the remaining parts of the tumour but he and his family are determined to raise as much awareness of the devastating impact of a brain tumour diagnosis as they can
On the 20 October, he will take part in The Brain Tumour Charity’s Prestwick Twilight Walk, which brings together the community of all of those affected.
It’s part of The Charity’s annual Twilight Walks, this year also taking in Warwick (Sept 30), Edinburgh (7 Oct) and Windsor (14 Oct), as well as over 70 own walks organised by supporters themselves that have over 2,000 people taking part up and down the UK during October.
“As a family, we’re looking forward to the Prestwick walk. You get a diagnosis like this and suddenly you realise that there are others out there going through the same.
“We’ve had lovely support from Katie Grier and Heather Dearie, who’s also living with a brain tumour and lives just a street away from us, who also work for the charity.”
Katie Grier, The Charity’s community fundraiser, said: “We always knew we had incredible supporters and Barry’s story confirms this.
“A huge thank you to him and his family for sharing his story and being an invaluable part of our community as we strive to stamp out brain tumours. We look forward to joining them and our community on the Prestwick Twilight Walk.
“Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of the under 40s and survival rates have not improved significantly over the last 40 years. We are leading the way in changing this by fighting brain tumours on all fronts.
“It’s through the efforts of people like Barry, who share their stories and raise vital awareness, that we can change these shocking statistics in the future.”
The Brain Tumour Charity is the UK’s largest dedicated brain tumour charity, committed to fighting brain tumours on all fronts.
They fund pioneering research to increase survival and improve treatment options as well as raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours to bring about earlier diagnosis.
The Charity also provides support for everyone affected so that they can live as full a life as possible, with the best quality of life.