The story of Kate Baker, the woman who went from being a brain tumour patient to a new career as a neuro nurse, is an inspiring read for anyone affected by this distressing health condition. The Brain Tumour Charity recently highlighted Kate’s admirable approach to life.
Kate was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016, after experiencing a range of symptoms including dizziness, nausea, and headaches for the previous 15 months. As she was only 35 at the time, her doctors were not immediately suspicious of a brain tumour, and instead sent her away with antibiotics.
Despite being previously healthy, Kate eventually collapsed one evening and was rushed to A&E. This eventually led to the long overdue CT scan, and resulted in an emergency neurosurgery operation at Queens Hospital. Fortunately, the procedure went well and most of the tumour at the back of her head was removed.
Kate recovered enough to undertake a charity trek to the Sahara in 2019, completing a gruelling 100 miles in challenging conditions.
She said: “All I wanted to do is just say thank you to the wonderful team on Sahara B, and just tell them that this is how amazing that they actually are, that I am prepared to go and walk 100 miles around the Sahara just to say thank you so much, and actually because of you guys I can do this.”
This was not the end of Kate’s incredible story. She began volunteering and training at the hospital where she was treated, eventually being employed as a healthcare assistant. This led to Kate becoming a fully qualified neuro nurse.
She said: “I wasn’t meant to be blue lighted to Queens to nearly die. I was delivered here safely to be a nurse. I can’t remember the defining moment, but I knew it was everything I ever wanted to do. I just kind of wish I’d seen the signs earlier that nursing was what I should be doing and what I love doing.”
Last year, Kate learned that a low grade brain tumour had returned. She opted for Gamma Knife Surgery, which is not physical surgery but a type of stereotactic radiosurgery that focuses radiation beams into the tumour to deliberately damage the tissues. It is highly accurate, meaning that the surrounding healthy tissue is unharmed.
Kate is still undergoing the treatment but hopes to resume her career as a neuro nurse once she is given the all-clear.
“She said: I would always say to myself looking back, the neuro nurse that I now am to the 35 year old girl who’s struggling with her health, ‘Go and demand answers and look them in the eye and say if this was you or a member of your family would you still send me away with antibiotics for somethings that clearly not a sinus infection.’”
Although brain tumours are relatively rare, many people do not recognise the symptoms in the early stages, and it is hoped that inspiring stories such as Kate’s can help to raise awareness of the condition.