Jack Chambers

4 min read

Jack Chambers, of Kilburn, North West London, was diagnosed with a grade 2 astrocytoma following a seizure last November. The 30-year-old underwent a debulking surgery and returned to his job as a researcher on the TV show QI just three weeks later. He will now be monitored with regular scans and is feeling positive about his future.

Jack tells his story …

I had a seizure last November. It started with me making an involuntary noise whilst lying in bed next to my wife, Tove. I turned to her to say ‘that was funny’, but all that came out were more involuntary noises, then I blacked out. It was pretty scary for her, but I was oblivious to what happened. The next thing I knew there were paramedics in our room. They told me I’d had a seizure and they were going to take me to hospital.

“They asked what month it was and, for about half a second, I thought ‘I can do this’, but then I realised I couldn’t answer, which was rather alarming.”

I felt drained and full of brain fog as I was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital, in Paddington, for tests. A doctor came to see me the following morning to tell me they’d found a growth in my frontal lobe and would be sending me for an MRI. I was shown the scan of my tumour about three weeks later. Although I was frightened to learn I had a grade 2 astrocytoma, after weeks of uncertainty, there was a part of me that was relieved to finally know what was going on.

“I also remember being interested to see the inside of my head for the first time.”

The surgeon told me my tumour was close to the surface of my brain, so was accessible and could be taken out, but it was also fairly large, which is when I understood he wasn’t sugarcoating anything for me. I learned the tumour was slow-growing and I’d probably had it for years, but it was good to know nothing I’d done had contributed to getting it. The fact I had it was shocking because you never think anything like that will happen to you, but I also felt good knowing it had been found.

“I was sure I was in a better position knowing it existed and planning for its removal than when it was silently growing inside of my head.”

The soonest my surgery could take place was six weeks later, in part because of the Christmas holidays but also due to the junior doctors’ strikes taking place. I thought I’d be fine once my tumour was removed but the more research I did, the more I realised it wasn’t a guarantee they’d get everything. My operation took place at Charing Cross Hospital, in Hammersmith, and lasted no more than six hours. My mother-in-law’s a GP and said the best she’d hoped for was me recognising Tove straight after surgery, so she was gobsmacked when I recognised her too.

As much as 98% of my tumour was debulked. It was deemed too risky to remove the remainder because of how close it was to important parts of my brain. Those cells will be monitored, with my next scan due to take place in July.

“I plan to live a healthy lifestyle but if the tumour wants to come back, there’s nothing I can do to stop it.”

I was discharged from hospital after three days and, by all accounts, my recovery has been pretty rapid. I couldn’t string sentences together straight away but that stopped within two weeks. I also couldn’t stand up without feeling a disconnect because my tumour was on the left side of my brain, so taking it out affected movement on my right-hand side but, thankfully, that was back to normal within a week. I did have sloshing in my head, which was really off-putting, and I heard a ticking noise when I laid down, but again that only last two weeks.

“Those odd sensations were caused by air and stopped as soon as the spaces left by the removal of my tumour were filled with cerebrospinal fluid.”

I was keen to test myself but I was advised to ‘rest before I test’ because sleep can help reorganise neuro pathways. I did go to the shop near where I live when I was just a week post-op and it was the most exciting trip I’ve ever made to any shop. I also managed to go back to work after three weeks.

It’s been quite a journey but I’ve enjoyed getting back to daily life. I was also really thankful for the influx of messages, support and help I received. The anti-seizure medication I’m on means I’m less likely to have a seizure now than before my tumour was discovered, but I do still suffer from fatigue.

“However, my surgeon has warned that could stay with me for many months, so it’s just a case of managing it as best I can.”

I belong to a football group called the Mabley Babies, which plays weekly near where I used to live in East London. My teammates are organising a charity football tournament to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research in my honour. I was really touched when they told me and, although I won’t be at full fitness, I’m planning to take part along with some of my friends. Anyone wishing to donate can do so at www.justgiving.com/page/jacksfootballreseach

Jack Chambers

February 2024

Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer... yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease since records began in 2002.

Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this.

If you have been inspired by Jack’s story you may like to make a donation via www.braintumourresearch.org/donate or leave a gift in your will via www.braintumourresearch.org/legacy

Together we will find a cure

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