Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Amazing gamma knife machine removes brain tumours without general anaesthetic

THE final minutes before entering an operating room for surgery lasting 13 hours to remove a large tumour from her brain still haunt Ellen Beardmore: “Waiting to be wheeled down for open brain surgery is absolutely terrifying,” she says. “All you think is: ‘I am going to die,  I am going to die’.” Seven months later Ellen had gamma knife surgery, a revolutionary new treatment, to stop the remaining parts of the tumour from spreading inside her brain, and the experience was incomparable. “When I went into the gamma knife machine I was a bit unsure of what was going to happen but I was awake the whole time and could not feel anything. “If I had the choice I would not go through open surgery again.” She spent eight days in hospital and five weeks off work after the open brain surgery but needed just a day off after the gamma knife procedure. The 27-year-old, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, who has made a full recovery, was fortunate to live near one of only seven gamma knife machines in England, yet only four of these are being used by the NHS, due to lack of funds. Two treat only private and foreign patients, while one at the Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield has been mothballed. It is no wonder Ellen is one of many who are calling for NHS England to make this advanced radiotherapy available to every cancer patient who could benefit.

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