Brain Tumour Awareness Month: Dad of Leeds toddler diagnosed with satsuma-sized tumour urges parents to know the signs

The dad of a Leeds toddler who was diagnosed with a satsuma-sized brain tumour has urged other parents to be aware of the symptoms of the cancer.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 6:00 am

Two-year-old Kasper McMullen underwent major surgery to remove the tumour from his brain stem in July.

The operation successfully removed 99 per cent of the tumour, but Kasper has since been in and out of Leeds General Infirmary following complications.

For Brain Tumour Awareness Month, his dad Paul McMullen is sharing Kasper's story to help other parents identify the signs of a potential tumour.

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Two-year-old Kasper McMullen pictured in LGI after undergoing surgery to remove a satsuma-sized brain tumour

The symptoms of a brain tumour in babies and children include persistent headaches, balance problems, persistent vomiting, abnormal eye movements and behavioral changes.

Dad-of-three Paul, 38, said; "We want to raise awareness as Kasper was showing signs of a brain tumour from January, but we didn't get a diagnosis until May.

“He stopped walking, eating and talking, his head was enlarged and he was being sick.

"We did have hospital visits, but when he lost his mobility and his head was enlarged, they thought it was just his development, when he was being sick they thought he had a viral bug.

Kasper's parents Paul McMullen, 38, and Emma McMullen, 36, are sharing his story to help other parents identify the signs of a potential tumour

“That’s five months of him having a tumour growing in his head and that’s so upsetting. We blame ourselves, even though we shouldn’t as we weren’t aware of the signs."

Paul and his wife Emma, who live in Pudsey, have praised the tremendous efforts of NHS staff who have cared for Kasper during his time in hospital.

After several major operations to revise the shunt, which was fitted to drain fluid from his brain, Kasper has now been cleared to restart a year's course of chemotherapy and is back in hospital with his dad.

“It doesn’t end once the tumour is removed", Paul said.

Kasper with his brothers, 13-year-old Ryan and Ashton, seven

"On Monday they did an MRI and there are some dots which they’re not sure about - it could be a tumour, or it could be just scar tissue. They said it is really important to restart the chemo as it's better to be safe than sorry.

"The shunt goes from his brain all the way to his gut, but as his body grows, the tube doesn’t, so he will have to come in and have that tube lengthened.

"Throughout his life he is going to be having further operations."

Paul urged parents not to be afraid if their child is experiencing the signs of a brain tumour, but to visit a doctor prepared to ask for a scan.

He added: "We were really scared, it is upsetting, but there is so much help out there and you are not on your own.

"The surgeons are fantastic and the doctors and nurses are unbelievable. When you’re in the hospital, they don’t just care for Kasper - they look after me as well.

"Having a brain tumour isn't just a mass growth in your head. It's heartbreak, scary and painful, it's personality changes, it's an understanding of how precious life is.

"It's also something that with the right amount of love and determination it makes you stronger. My boy has been through so much but is still fighting his way to the end of all this."

To get support and find out more about the symptoms of a brain tumour in babies, children and teenagers, visit www.headsmart.org.ukSupport the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe