Matilda Hunt or Tilly as she is known to her family, was 12 years old when she was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour on her pituitary gland in February 2021.
She had been having headaches and blurred vision for a few months, so her family booked an eye test. Her eyesight tested normal, but the symptoms continued to get worse. A second visit to the optician revealed that Tilly had inflamed optic nerves.
Two days later they visited the eye clinic at their local hospital and, after several tests, Tilly was sent to A&E for more tests and finally an MRI. At this point, because of COVID restrictions, only her dad Jason was allowed to be with her.
“A doctor dropped the bombshell that she had a cancerous tumour. I had to tell Tilly, who cried a little, but who seemed to take everything onboard. I rang Tilly’s mum, who rushed straight over so we could spend some time together before Tilly was transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham where there was a specialist department. However, only one of us could go with her.
“Everything was a blur that night. They needed to put a shunt into her brain to release the swelling and a Hickman line, so that they could take regular bloods and administer her chemotherapy, which they started her on shortly after.
“We ended up staying in hospital for nearly a month, as Tilly received four courses of chemo, each lasting five days. The chemo progressively made her more ill. She fainted on several occasions.
“After a few weeks to recover, she went on to have seven weeks of daily radiotherapy. For the majority of this period Tilly remained in hospital, as she was so ill and had become severely underweight. The treatment officially ended on 6 August 2021.
“Her mental health was affected severely by the trauma of the treatment and from being hospitalised for such a prolonged period of time. So we are still working on helping her cope with anxiety.
“The amazing Kids’ Kit Tilly received from Cancer Support UK helped to lift my daughter’s spirits at a time when they were extremely low. She loved the socks and the warmable bunny, as well as all the other items. Tilly is really grateful for the support from your charity.
“Tilly is very shy and is definitely a bit of a school nerd – she loves to read and excelled academically before the diagnosis. But she struggles with the social aspect of school, especially after losing almost two years, because of the COVID Lockdown.
“We try to take everything a day at a time. Our family has been severely impacted through the experience, but we are completely united in supporting Tilly as she tries to resume normal – or as close to normal living as possible.
“Due to the damage caused by the tumour, Tilly, who is now 13, will for the next four years have daily hormone injections to help her grow to a normal height, as she is relatively short for her age (she will turn 14 in October).
“She has had her six month review and the doctors are happy with how the treatment has worked. It may take a few years to get the all clear, but things are definitely looking positive for that to happen.
Tilly’s Kids’ Kit was funded thanks to the generosity of Cancer Support UK’s supporters. If you’ve been touched by Tilly’s journey, please can you help us to send Kids’ Kits, featuring warmable teds, like the one received by Tilly, to other children undergoing cancer treatment. Your kindness will help to send a smile to so many children with cancer and that’s something they’ll never forget. To support us, please visit our donation page and make a donation. Thank you.