My daughter kept falling asleep at school… I could never have imagined the real reason, our family’s lives fell apart

A mother has shared how her family’s life fell apart when her daughter unexpectedly fell ill.

Karen Kinsella first realized something was wrong with Emily, 14, when she fell asleep when she was supposed to be doing schoolwork.

Karen Kinsella with her daughter Emily


Karen Kinsella with her daughter EmilyPhoto credit: MEN Media
Doctors discovered that Emily had a brain tumor when she was 14 years old


Doctors discovered that Emily had a brain tumor when she was 14 years oldPhoto credit: MEN Media
They raise funds for a trial treatment for Emily


They raise funds for a trial treatment for EmilyPhoto credit: MEN Media

And just a few days later, Emily got a headache and her face fell to one side.

Karen texted a photo to her GP, who told her to take Emily to the ER when doctors told her she had a brain tumor.

She was immediately transferred to Manchester Children’s Hospital and had surgery to remove part of the brain tumour.

Karen told the Manchester Evening News: “Three days later they came and told us the tumor was very bad.

“They said it was the worst case scenario and they couldn’t put a number on how long she would live.”

Her family’s life was turned upside down – doctors told them the tumor was ‘treatable’ but not ‘curable’.

However, after completing a round of chemotherapy, the tumor was stabilized for a while.

It meant that Emily could lead a relatively normal life and be able to spend time with friends again.

But just weeks before Christmas in 2021, tragedy struck again when Emily started having trouble swallowing.

She was forced to have another scan – and was told the original tumor had returned, as well as a new one.

The second appeared on the brainstem, meaning it was inoperable.

Karen explained: “The Christie agreed to do 10 radiation therapy sessions at a lower dose, but then she ended up in intensive care because she couldn’t breathe and was on oxygen.

“She was there for six days and we were told twice to prepare for the worst. By that time she had pneumonia and her lungs had collapsed. But she just didn’t give up.

“They thought she wouldn’t make it. Her friends all came to say goodbye. We all cried at her bedside. Then suddenly she started breathing on her own and they were able to reduce her oxygen. The doctors and nurses said it was a wonder.”

Emily is now 16, has finished her radiotherapy and has spent Christmas at home with her family.

Now the family hopes that she will soon be treated with a trial drug available in France.

It would mean the family would be forced to spend £3,900 every month and drive 12 hours there.

Karen said: “The hope is that it keeps Emily alive until something comes along.

“It won’t cure her, but it might prolong her life and that’s all we want for her.

“We want to get Emily on the drug for a couple of months and then we will focus on lobbying the UK government for her to have access to it here.

“It’s not just the money, it’s the trip to France. It’s time off work and you just have to put your life on hold. We’ll find the money even if we have to sell the house.

They have now set up a GoFundMe page to fund the treatment.

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Karen said: “She won’t be able to go back to school so she just wants to be able to help others. The focus for us now is on this drug.

“We just want to keep her alive long enough for a miracle. If we can keep her alive for a year or two, who knows what treatments may get through during that time.” My daughter kept falling asleep at school… I could never have imagined the real reason, our family’s lives fell apart

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