Tianna Davies

4 min read

Tianna Davies, from Northampton, had been suffering with severe headaches and was initially misdiagnosed with migraines before having her grade 3 ependymoma discovered in March 2023. The 24-year-old, who is a mortgage administrator for Nationwide Building Society, underwent two debulking surgeries and seven weeks of proton beam therapy. She will now be monitored with regular scans.

Tianna Davies was diagnosed with an ependymoma in March 2023

Here is Tianna’s story, as told by her father Hector…

This time last year, Tianna was experiencing lots of headaches, and they were getting progressively worse. When she told us she could no longer bear the pain, we knew it must have been bad. Her doctor kept telling us she was suffering from migraines, but Tianna is tough and was telling us something was wrong, so we decided to pay for her to see a private neurologist.

“He looked in her eyes and within five minutes said: ‘there’s something there, you need to go to A&E’.”

Tianna with her parents

Tianna had an MRI scan at Northampton General Hospital the following day and it was after that she was told there was a mass on her brain. The doctor who gave us the news said he had sent her scans to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and, after a few hours of waiting for someone to get back to him, he told us to go home. We’d just sat down to watch Britain’s Got Talent when we got a call telling us to go straight to Oxford. It was after 9pm by the time we got there.

“The Neurosurgeon, Mr Richard Stacey, told us there would be only two outcomes if Tianna’s tumour wasn’t operated on, paralysis because of the size of it and, ultimately, death.”

Tianna's scan showing the brain tumour

He wasn’t sure how much they’d be able to debulk but said they’d also be carrying out a biopsy to determine what type of tumour she had. The surgery took place a few days later, at the start of April, during which, fortunately, the majority of Tianna’s tumour was removed.

“The biopsy results, however, revealed she had brain cancer, a grade 3 ependymoma, and it was decided her best chance at longevity was to have another surgery.”

Tianna's scar after surgery

We were told her remaining tumour was like a string attached to her brain, but it was the wait to have it removed that proved most stressful. The urgency of her situation was made quite clear to us, but with the doctors’ strikes, and other events, her second surgery, which was to be an awake craniotomy to reduce the risk of brain damage, was delayed by months.

“It finally went ahead in October and was another success thanks to Professor Puneet Plaha, but Tianna suffered after because she found having to be awake for part of it really traumatic.”

Tianna's scar

She wasn’t conscious for any of the first one and woke up hungry as if it had never happened, but the second was really tough on her.

Tianna has proton beam therapy

After she had recovered physically, Tianna’s oncologist told us she was being put forward for proton beam therapy and seemed confident it would be approved. Tianna hasn’t long been back from that. It started in January and lasted seven weeks. She lost her hair over the course of a couple of weeks and decided to shave the rest off, but otherwise she coped really well. She’s back at home with us now, but it has been a tough year.

“The only word I can use to describe it is ‘trauma’ because we were being hit by one thing after another and it seemed never-ending.”

Tianna was left with a bald patch after treatment

Tianna’s been amazing, though. How she’s managed to stay so strong is beyond me but she’s always been a tough cookie. When the doctor told her she was having migraines, she knew it was something more and had been googling tumours, so I think when we got the news she had one, she was already mentally prepared and was able to react relatively calmly.

“But she’s the youngest of our three children, and our only girl, so it’s been really difficult watching her go through everything she’s had to endure.”

Tianna Davies

It's still very raw for us but we want to help prevent others from having to go through what we have, which is why we’re making plans to support Wear A Hat Day later this month. I’m the manager of Nationwide’s Weston Favell branch and my team there, which has been very supportive of the difficult year we’ve had, also wants to get involved. As well as paying to wear hats, we’ll be holding a raffle and a cake sale, which I hope will go some way towards helping the shocking underinvestment in brain tumour research.

“Tianna will be joining us in a beanie hat that looks like a brain – she hasn’t lost her sense of humour.”

Tianna and her parents wearing hats

Hector Gregersen

March 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 Tianna’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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