Advertisement

My doctor blamed breastfeeding for my neck pain — but it was a brain tumor

A UK mom who was reportedly told that her neck pain was caused by her poor posture as she breastfed her son discovered her symptoms were actually due to a brain tumor.
A UK mom who was reportedly told that her neck pain was caused by her poor posture as she breastfed her son discovered her symptoms were actually due to a brain tumor.

A UK mom who was reportedly told that her neck pain was caused by her poor posture as she breastfed her newborn discovered her symptoms were actually due to a brain tumor.

Fiona Donald, 41, started experiencing pain in her neck the day after giving birth to her son, Ralph, who is now 6.

The mom of two would wake up with severe headaches and get constant pins and needles in her hands.

“I was breastfeeding Ralph and by the evening, I had a pain in my neck. The doctor told me it was caused by the way I was feeding,” Donald, a teacher, told SWNS.

“But I knew it was something more,” she continued. “I’d breastfed my first son for three years and this had never happened with him. I went to the doctor three times over the course of a year before I got any answers.”

It wasn’t until an MRI scan, 14 months later, that Donald learned she actually had a low-grade brain tumor.

Fiona Donald, 41, started experiencing pain in her neck the day after giving birth to her son, Ralph, who is now 6. Also pictured: her son Rory. Fiona Donald
Fiona Donald, 41, started experiencing pain in her neck the day after giving birth to her son, Ralph, who is now 6. Also pictured: her son Rory. Fiona Donald

Her problems began shortly after Ralph was delivered via C-section on Sept. 14, 2017, at Derriford Hospital, in Plymouth, England.

The next evening, Donald began to notice a pain in her neck after a day of breastfeeding.

She also felt pins and needles in her hands, as well as pressure in her head.

She’d wake up every morning with a severe headache and struggle to empty her bladder.

“The pins and needles occurred almost instantly,” Donald described. “As did a surge of pressure against my skull — all symptoms which didn’t seem uncommon after having a baby.”

A scan revealed she had a mass on her brain that doctors diagnosed as a low-grade brain tumor, called a meningioma. Fiona Donald
A scan revealed she had a mass on her brain that doctors diagnosed as a low-grade brain tumor, called a meningioma. Fiona Donald

After her third time visiting her doctor, she was referred for an MRI at Derriford Hospital.

The November 2018 scan revealed she had a mass on her brain that doctors diagnosed as a low-grade brain tumor, called a meningioma.

Donald was told that to remove it, she’d need a 13-hour operation, which could result in stroke, paralysis and brain damage.

“Everything happened quickly,” she recalled. “At the time, my eldest, Rory, was 4 and Ralph was still being breastfed.”

Donald had her surgery on Dec. 28, 2018, and she was left with compression injuries to her right leg and two blood clots on her brain.

She spent three days in intensive care before being discharged to recover at home.

Donald had her surgery on Dec. 28, 2018, and she was left with compression injuries to her right leg and two blood clots on her brain. Fiona Donald
Donald had her surgery on Dec. 28, 2018, and she was left with compression injuries to her right leg and two blood clots on her brain. Fiona Donald

Amazon's Big Spring Sale is HERE!

Shop the Deals

“I thought being low-grade, treatment would be straightforward,” Donald said.

“However, when the doctor explained surgery could leave me with life-changing injuries — including potential speech loss, inability to breathe without a ventilator, paralysis from the neck down, stroke and impact my cognition — I was scared my children would never know the real me,” she confessed.

Donald has managed to make a full recovery. She’s monitored with yearly scans to check that the tumor hasn’t returned.

She credited her quick recovery time to running. She will be participating in the Plymouth Half Marathon on April 28 to raise money for the Brain Tumour Research charity. She’s collected more than $800 so far.

“I’m sometimes a little unsteady on my feet and suffer with head pain if I wear my hair a certain way, as it pulls on my scar,” Donald shared. “I also live with the very real possibility the tumor could come back — but I feel lucky mine was operable.”