A man was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour after doctors initially mistook his symptoms for GRIEF.
Rory Gilsenan, 50, is a champion show horse producer and recently one of his friends, Tim Stockdale – an Olympic show jumper, died of cancer.
He started slurring his words and was confused, but doctors just thought Rory, from Tingewick, Buckinghamshire, was grieving the loss of his friend.
But his family insisted on more tests and it was finally discovered in October 2018 that Rory had an aggressive brain tumour – and he began life-saving treatment.
Rory’s wife, Vanessa said: “We first realised something was wrong when Rory started losing his speech and appeared confused.
“The doctor said he was stressed and grieving after losing his friend Tim Stockdale to stomach cancer in November 2018.
“But we realised it was more than that and refused to let it go. To be told that he had a brain tumour was earth shattering.
“He had an initial operation in December 2018 and, incredibly, he was back in the saddle just five weeks later.
“He managed to carry on riding throughout radiotherapy and chemotherapy and the tumour was stable for a while but, sadly, we were later told that it was growing again and Rory underwent further surgery in September.”
Within days of being discharged from hospital, Rory was able to attend a pre-Horse of the Year Show event at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre.
But a short while later he had problems with speech and his peripheral vision and had a stroke on 20 December.
He was back in hospital for a month and did some physiotherapy but discharged in mid-January, paralysed down his right side and barely able to speak.
Now, the Gilsenan family are working with Brain Tumour Research and sharing Rory’s story during Brain Tumour Awareness Month to raise awareness of the disease.
The family are concerned that Rory was released without a rehabilitation plan in place and are currently relying on costly private physio treatment.
They have been overwhelmed at the support they have received from family, friends, and the equestrian community.
Vanessa said: “We have been so touched by the way people have stepped up to help fund treatment and a number of horsey people are donating their time and donating income from riding tuition.
“We are desperate to get Rory back on his feet and, if possible, on horseback too.”
Irishman Rory, who has a yard at Goddington near Bicester and has four children, was diagnosed just weeks after celebrating his first Working Hunter title at the Horse of the Year Show in October 2018.
He also took the championship at Hickstead that year despite having undergone months of gruelling chemotherapy.
Hugh Adams, from Brain Tumour Research, said: “The Gilsenan family is not alone in their situation as this is by no means the first time we have heard of brain tumour patients struggling to access rehab treatment after suffering a stroke.
“Our hearts go out to Rory and his family as he strives to regain his mobility and literally get back in the saddle.
“Sadly, unlike many other cancers, brain tumours are indiscriminate. They can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, gender, race or lifestyle.
“Too little is known about the causes and that is why increased investment in research is vital if we are to improve outcomes for patients and, ultimately, find a cure.”