Health

Ex-soldier from Gloucester told he has weeks to live after brain tumour diagnosis

An ex-soldier from Gloucester has been told he has just weeks to live after suffering from a seizure which led to the discovery of a rare brain tumour. Despite his prognosis, the 27-year-old has said he has “learnt to accept it” and is “at peace with it”.

Ben Robinson served five years as a sapper in the British Army, and served in Kenya and The Falklands. In 2015, aged 19 he suffered a seizure out of the blue while working at Chetwynd Barracks in Nottinghamshire.

The then Royal Engineer was rushed to Cheltenham General Hospital. A scan showed tiny lesions, thought to be tumours, growing on his brain and he was told he had just two weeks to live.

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After further tests, a week later, doctors changed their assessment and said the tiny lesions were actually a form of epilepsy known as cortical dysplasia, and he was given medication to keep his seizures under control.

He said: “For about a week I thought I didn’t have long to live. So when doctors said it was epilepsy, that was a big relief.”

For the next five years, Ben took medication to control his seizures. However in September 2020, his seizures became more frequent and severe and a scan at Southmead Hospital in Bristol revealed the devastating news the lesions were in fact tumours growing on his brain.

Two months later, Ben had an operation during which surgeons removed 90 per cent of the large tumour. Two tumours were deemed inoperable due to their location on the brain. A biopsy showed Ben’s diagnosis was a rare brain tumour, a grade 3 anaplastic oligodendroglioma.

Ben said: “The lesions were initially described as ‘birth marks’ on my brain and started off the size of a pinhead. By the time I had surgery, they were huge in comparison, the size of golf balls.”

Ben had three months of radiotherapy at the beginning of 2021 and is due to finish chemotherapy treatment in August this year. Meanwhile, he has been medically discharged from the Army.

He added: It’s hard to get your head round being told you have a brain tumour, let alone being given a limited amount of time to live.I have learnt to accept it and I’m at peace with it.

“It puts things into perspective and has encouraged me to use my positive mindset to help others who are struggling with their own diagnosis and mental health in general.”

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Last month, Ben proposed to his partner, 28-year-old Kelly White, a personal assistant for Dunkertons Cider in Cheltenham and the couple plan to travel together before starting a family once Ben finishes his treatment.

Ben added: “I’m lucky to have the people I do around me. Everyone is supportive and has stuck with me throughout my diagnosis. Kelly and I are excited about our life together and can’t wait to get married.”

Ben is also a .part time DJ, and despite everything he is looking to raise money for Brain Tumour Research. He will take to the decks at The Kings Head in Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham on 26 March.

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The night of music and fundraising as part of the charity’s iconic Wear A Hat Day on Friday March 25. Up to 200 guests will be encouraged to wear their favourite hat for an evening of entertainment to fundraise for the cause after Ben’s own diagnosis with the disease.

Wear A Hat Day has raised more than £2 million for Brain Tumour Research to help fund the fight against the disease. It is one of the UK’s biggest fundraising days and has been running for 13 years.

Community development manager Mel Tiley at Brain Tumour Research said: “We wish Ben well in his ongoing treatment and are grateful to him for sharing his story. The effort that Ben and Kelly are going to for their fundraising event is fantastic, especially as he is going through chemotherapy treatment at the same time. Ben’s story reminds us of the indiscriminate nature of this awful disease.”

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