The mum of an eight-year-old girl diagnosed with a brain tumour told of her first day back at school in nine months – and said she was smiling all day.
Katie Paterson was diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2020 after she began being sick, got clumsy and developed a pain in her back.
Brave Katie has since been through two gruelling surgeries, radiotherapy and is now undergoing chemotherapy.
But she was delighted to be able to go back to school last month and be reunited with her friends.
Proud mum Elaine, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, said: “She got to go in for a few hours to meet her new teachers and to touch base with her class and her friends.
“We really felt that lifted her quite significantly, so that was a lovely moment.
“Katie was really desperate to feel normal and she wanted to have something that she was in control of, so going back to school was what she really wanted.
“We worked closely with the school and the hospital, and because she’s still having active treatment, she can’t go every day.
“But we came to a compromise and she was allowed to go for two hours.
“The school have been absolutely amazing and supportive, and the teachers have been in constant contact.
“Katie loves to draw, so her teacher had planned an art lesson.
“When she came out, she just said: ‘Mum, I’ve smiled all morning. I loved it.’
“It was a momentous moment.”
Katie was taken to Wishaw General Hospital on December 14 last year when she became unwell.
Due to covid restrictions deputy headteacher Elaine had to wait in the car while dad Graham took her in.
But she was quickly called in after a CT scan revealed Katie had a huge brain tumour.
Elaine said: “They had the results of the scan, but they didn’t want to give them to Graham without me there as well.
“I rushed back to the hospital, and we were given the awful news that the scan had revealed a tumour at the back of Katie’s head.
“It was so big, it had completely blocked the flow of her brain fluid, which was causing pressure on her brain.
“She was suffering from hydrocephalus and had to be blue-lighted immediately to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.
“I felt complete numbness.
“The fear that came over me was like nothing I’d ever felt before.
“It was like I was living somebody else’s life.
“Thankfully, the team looking after Katie was magnificent.”
Katie was rushed for surgery the following day to relieve the pressure in her head but was told she would need further surgery.
On December 18 she underwent a craniotomy to debulk the tumour – which lasted 10.5 hours.
Mum Elaine said: “I wasn’t sure I could bear to go in and see her in case she didn’t respond.
“We’d been made aware of all the significant risks of her surgery and I was terrified.
“Thankfully, the anaesthetist said that Katie was shouting for me.
“She was very vocal and angry but that was a good thing.
“Katie got through the surgery relatively unscathed.
“It was such a relief.”
On Christmas Eve, Elaine and Graham were told that although all of the tumour had been removed Katie would face another 10 to 12 months of cancer treatment.
She was discharged from hospital on December 30 and her six-week course of radiotherapy at The Beatson – West of Scotland Cancer Care started on January 18.
She started a course of chemotherapy in April and it is expected to last until Christmas 2021.
Elaine said: “Other than some hair loss, Katie didn’t suffer too badly from the side effects of radiotherapy.
“She was home every afternoon to do home-schooling. She breezed through it.
“The treatment regime is hitting her really hard.
“It’s much tougher than the radiotherapy.
“The chemo makes her sick, exhausted and is causing aches and pains all over her body.
“She’s lost her appetite to the point that she now has to be tube-fed.”
On August 30 Katie returned to Clarkston Primary School in Airdrie for the first time in nine months.
Elaine added: “While others around us are celebrating the return to school we will continue to home school Katie as this is the best way to protect her.
“It was so wonderful for her to be with her school friends even just for a couple of hours and we can only hope that, in due course, she will be back in class full time.”
Joe Woollcott, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “In sharing Katie’s powerful story, the Paterson family is highlighting the devastation of a childhood brain tumour diagnosis.
“To hear that a young person has been diagnosed with brain cancer is shattering.”