Lisa Wiles was a 42-year-old mother-of-three living in King’s Lynn, Norfolk (pictured here in the centre). As well as running a home and raising her sons and daughter, Lisa was also completing a full-time BA (Hons) Psychosocial degree.
In August 2010, Lisa began to get a severe headache, which would last for eleven days. After being taken to hospital for suspected meningitis, a CAT scan found a shadow on the front, right part of her brain. Further tests discovered the worst news; Lisa had a grade-4 brain tumour (GBM).
Thankfully, her tumour was able to be operated on. During the operation, Lisa was woken up so that doctors could assess any damage they were doing. At the time she told us she could hear them working in her head, but couldn’t feel a thing.
The operation was as successful as anyone could have hoped, 100% of the visible tumour was removed, Chemotherapy wafers were inserted and Lisa and her family had gained a few, precious months together.
Lisa was able to carry on living as she had done before; caring for her children, spending quality time with her family and studying for her degree. All the while, she was undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She would simultaneously write essays and be sick from the chemo.
On the day she lost her hair, she asked her daughter to wrap a scarf around the bald patch and went to college. When the time came for her to shave her remaining blonde locks, she didn’t cry and instead said “so that’s the shape of my head”.
Her thirst for life became stronger than before; she planned days out and holidays. She wanted to see and do everything she could, and no little brain tumour would stop her.
It was also during this time she began to raise money for research into brain tumours. She had already donated some of her tumour to research, and was now competing in the Race for Life and other sponsored events. She knew this wouldn’t help her, but all she could think of was preventing others from going through the same thing.
In July 2011, an MRI scan found that her tumour hadn’t grown since the operation. However, a new shadow had been found on the left side of her brain. After a week of waiting, everyone’s worst fear was confirmed; a second, unrelated tumour had formed.
Sadly, this was inoperable and the effects began to show quickly. It was during a family holiday to Turkey, less than a month after the new prognosis that we began to see changes. Her face began to droop, her speech became slurred.
Within weeks of our return to the UK, Lisa began to lose the use of the right hand side of her body. She could no longer hold a pen, she was easily confused and struggled to find the correct words and her right foot dragged. At a time when others would have given up, Lisa still attended college every day.
As we entered September 2011, Lisa had begun to use a wheelchair and needed more full-time care.
On October 5th, Lisa got up and went to college, aided by her mother and friends. She was a few weeks into her final year, while her classmates were looking forward to their futures, Lisa was unsure of hers. Sadly, this would be the last day that she was able to think about it.
That night, she came home and watched the Pride of Britain awards and sobbed for the people on there. Still, this far into her illness, she was concerned with others.
The next morning, she sat on the sofa and began to slip in and out of consciousness. As Lisa began to embark on her final battle; her family gathered around her. We lay with her for a week, sharing memories, praying, laughing and crying.
On Thursday 13th October 2011 at 12:07pm, our beautiful mother, daughter, sister, aunty, and friend took her final breath.