'There will be some people not as lucky as me' - Tracey's relief at having life-saving brain treatment during Covid-19 lockdown

For Tracey Speight, the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic brought with it an extra level of horror and anxiety.

By Joanna Wardill
Monday, 13th July 2020, 6:00 am
Tracey Speight, from Rothwell, who has been able to have radiotherapy on her brain during Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Simon Hulme
Tracey Speight, from Rothwell, who has been able to have radiotherapy on her brain during Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Simon Hulme

The 55-year-old, of Rothwell, was due to start an intensive course of potentially life-saving radiotherapy on her brain just as lockdown began.

Having battled a brain tumour since 2018 - undergoing a craniotomy and five further surgeries the following year - Tracey had received the worrying news in January this year that a new area of concern had been picked up during a routine brain scan.

Medics immediately scheduled six weeks of radiotherapy but the pandemic left her fearing whether it would go ahead - and what that could mean.

Thankfully for her, doctors agreed to begin her treatment - but she knows she has been one of the lucky ones.

She said: “I was so worried what would happen if it didn’t go ahead because I know so many patients unfortunately who have had cancer treatment put on hold.

“I thought ‘Oh my gosh, realistically am I more frightened of coronavirus or what a delay to my treatment could turn into?’. For me, it was what it could turn into.

“I knew that once [the treatment] started, they couldn’t stop it mid-way. I just hoped and prayed that I would get there and get that first treatment over and done with. In my mind, it wasn’t a choice - I wanted it and needed it.”

Her first treatment began on March 26, just days after lockdown, and she said she felt immense relief once there.

“Absolutely - so relieved but also a little bit of guilt thinking ‘gosh there will be some people not as lucky as me’ and thank God I’m in Leeds and thank God it’s going ahead but also I really felt for the people that were not in the position I was in.”

Tracey had experienced the crushing disappointment caused by a delay to treatment back in 2018 when she had initially hoped to have her craniotomy in November of that year before it was pushed back two months to January 2019.

“I had had a taste of having something cancelled and knew how utterly devastating it is. It was an awful feeling. The disappointment was really devastating.

“You don’t know how often [the brain] might change. Your whole worry is what happens if something happens fast in the meantime before I get more treatment.”

Tracey went on to have 30 sessions of radiotherapy - travelling into Leeds on hospital transport every week day for six weeks, before returning home where she lives alone with her two dogs.

She said the Yorkshire Brain Tumour Charity has provided amazing support from day one and meant she has never felt like she is dealing with it on her own.

“I rang them when I was first diagnosed and I have never looked back ever since. They have been amazing. They have always been there. I have a zoom meeting with them once a fortnight now which is fantastic. You can make contact with them whenever, and I certainly do.”

She added: “It has to continue. It can’t not do. They have just been so supportive and made this journey so much easier.”

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