Dad had neck pain after working from home – but it turned out to be a brain tumour
A dad who thought he had neck pain caused by working from home has been told by doctors he has an inoperable brain tumour.
Gary Nelson, 42, said he began suffering aches and pains while working remotely during the pandemic.
After contacting his GP, the dad-of-one from Chester was told the pain could have been posture related and because of excessive laptop use.
But after his vision started to decline he was referred for tests, where he was told that he had an aggressive tumour in his brain stem.
It left the marketing manager for Fitbit and his wife Amy, 40, devastated.
Amy, a volunteer coordinator at Ellesmere Port-based charity Bridge Community Farms told CheshireLive : “Gary has suffered two brain tumours in the past but both were operable and he went on to recover well.
“Another brain tumour diagnosis was the last thing we were expecting, having been reassured that he had probably been having too much screen time on zoom calls.
“Some rest did help to alleviate the aches and pains for a short time but a few weeks later, things got worse.”
Amy added that her husband was alone when he received the heartbreaking diagnosis due to Covid restrictions but was “so brave.”
She added: “Gary started to experience blurred vision. We called the doctors again and he was sent for MRI scans.
“Due to the coronavirus restrictions, he was on his own when he got the results.
“He was so brave. I sat in the car park listening in over the phone when the doctor broke the news to us that they had found a ‘shadow’ in his brain stem. We later found out that the tumour is high-grade.
“It was just devastating.”
The family was told that Gary’s brain tumour was likely to have been caused by treatment he received for a low-grade tumour as a child, but this was successfully treated with neurosurgery and a gruelling course of radiotherapy.
But at 34, the dad had another brain tumour diagnosis in 2012 after he began experiencing similar symptoms to those he had suffered as a child.
Gary lost some of his sense of touch and began to struggle to complete basic tasks such as fastening his shoelaces or doing up his belt.
Amy said: “Gary and I were living in the Middle East at the time, where Gary worked for Apple as a regional programme manager. We’d been on holiday to Sardinia when his symptoms occurred so when we got home to Dubai, he made an appointment with the doctor and he was sent for an MRI scan.
“We were distraught to discover that he had a large meningioma tumour on a main ventricle in his brain.
“He was referred to the American Hospital and within days he was undergoing life-threatening surgery to remove the tumour.”
The couple were told there was a strong chance that Gary would be left in a vegetative state or that he wouldn’t survive.
But the couple were hugely relieved that the operation was a success and Gary travelled back to the UK for further treatment.
Gary continued to be monitored and in August 2019 some regrowth was discovered and he began six weeks of radiotherapy at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Bebington, in the hope of stopping any further growth.
This was the last time radiotherapy could be offered to Gary as he had reached his lifetime limit of this type of intensive treatment.
But, less than a year later in April of this year the couple received the heart-breaking news that a brain tumour was growing and his treatment options were far more limited due to the location of the tumour.
Wife Amy said the operation would cause Gary to be paralysed.
She said: “An operation would render Gary paralysed from the neck down.
“We already knew that re-radiation therapy wasn’t an option either, as it would cause brain necrosis. But our prayers were answered, when we were given the option of chemotherapy.
“Gary began taking chemo tablets on 1 August; he is on a six-month course of five-day cycles.”
The mum-of-one said that Gary is a “fighter” and they will both fight for their six-year-old daughter, Olive
“One thing I know for sure about Gary is that he is a fighter, the strongest and most determined of all.
“This is a fight we are taking on together. We fight for our beautiful, clever, six-year-old daughter Olive, who loves her daddy so very much.
“We fight for our family and friends and we fight for other sufferers and their loved ones. We fight for a future where the cure doesn’t cause more tumours and damage to healthy brain cells.”
The couple are working with Brain Tumour Research, to raise awareness of the issues facing brain tumour patients and their loved ones.
Last month they were joined by 16 friends from all over the UK, as they took on an 11k Walk of Hope in Chester.
Gary said: “It was an emotional but beautiful day. The sun was shining, our faces were smiling and our collection box was getting heavier by the kilometre from donations we made along the way!
“We were so proud to be promoting and supporting the importance of Brain Tumour Research and delighted to have raised £9,000 so far.”