Tilly's Story

Tilly’s smiles will melt your heart and have you smiling in return. Look at her photo and try to say we are lying. She is an inspiration to us at the charity and to anyone having to face the difficult journey when a loved one is diagnosed with a brain tumour. She has been through so much with such bravery and, as we said, a lot of smiles.

Around Christmas 2020, Tilly started complaining about headaches and her eyes hurting her. It got worse in January when she started doing lockdown schoolwork on her laptop, so her parents, Jason and Ruth, decided to take her for an eye test.

The eye test came back OK, but her dad told the optician that there was clearly something wrong, so they rebooked her in for another test in February.

By this point, her eyesight had got worse. She wasn’t eating, was always tired and was going to bed as early as 6pm. The optician couldn’t work out what was wrong until a photo of the back of her eyes showed inflamed optic nerves.

Tilly was sent to eye casualty, who performed a number of tests and 90 minute MRI on her head and her spine.

“The doctor took me into a side room and told me they had found a mass in her brain and that it was more than likely cancer. I had to tell Tilly, which as you would guess, wasn’t easy, but I felt she needed to know the truth,” her father said.

“I had to ring her mum to come to meet us at the hospital, but due to Covid guidelines, only one parent was allowed to visit at a time, but they allowed her to be with us for a short while before they told us we were being transferred to the QMC in Nottingham as their oncology department was more specialised.”

Tilly was taken to the paediatric neurology ward by ambulance. Her tumour is inoperable, because of its location in her brain.

 Her chemotherapy started the next week –  four courses, each five days long, over five months. She was terribly ill, and the majority of the time was spent in hospital.

The treatment ended on August 6th 2021. Tilly, however, has struggled with her physical and mental health since, and has to have several emergency ambulances and trips to casualty.

Tilly got back into school, working hard in Y8. Her teacher nominated her for an award to recognise her resilience and bravery. A keen Derby County supporter, the club have been so brilliant in supporting her through tough times and deserve a lot of plaudits.

Tilly has recently completed Y9 and even managed to make it into school full-time. She’ll be aiming to keep this up when she starts back in September and begins her GCSE courses.

She will always have the tumour, the question is whether the radiotherapy had made it benign, but that takes time to find out. Tilly is two years in remission but it will be three more years before she can be classed as cancer-free.

For updates on Tilly, follow dad Jason on Twitter (@AikidoDerby) or look for the wholly appropriate hashtag #KeepSmilingTilly