Doctors can’t explain why my husband has multiple brain tumours — Wife

Mrs Judith Henry, an entrepreneur and real estate broker, talks with Ajibade Omape about how tumours were found in her husband’s brain when he went for spinal cord surgery

What is your husband’s name and what happened to him?

My name is Judith Henry, I’m from Kogi State. I’m an entrepreneur and also a real estate broker. My husband’s name is Henry Godwin. He is a pastor. The issue started in September 2022 as a simple waist pain that never went away. The pain lingered and went from the waist to the eye. His right eye started getting blurry, and we were going from hospital to hospital to find out what the problem was. However, we were unable to get a definite diagnosis. He was using all sorts of eye drops as the condition progressed. He then started losing sensation in his left leg, which later progressed to the right leg. We ran a series of tests, but nothing was confirmed. So, around November 2022, the doctor who was taking care of the eye said that he couldn’t continue anymore and that he would refer us to another hospital. He referred us to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. When we got to UPTH, we first went to see the ophthalmologist. After seeing the ophthalmologist, we were referred to an orthopaedic unit of the hospital because, at that time (November), he could no longer walk again. He was in a wheelchair. When we got to the orthopaedic unit, we did the MRI, which is a spine MRI and we discovered that there was a tumour in his spine. When they discovered the tumour, they booked him for a surgical operation and they asked us to bring N1.5 million for the operation. At the end of the day, we spent N1.3 million for the spine operation. After the spine operation was done on the 6th of December 2022, we were expecting him to start recovering, but one month after the surgery, he started having recurring seizures. Most times, the seizures would last up to 30 minutes and sometimes it would last for about one hour, the seizures began to progress and increase as time went by. So, we were asked to do a brain MRI on January 22nd, 2023. After we did a brain MRI and the results were out, we were referred to a neurosurgeon by the orthopaedics in the same hospital. The neurosurgeon checked the result of the MRI scan and said the case was confusing to him. He later explained that he saw multiple tumours scattered over my husband’s brain and that there’s one at the right eye that is causing him discomfort in the eye. The neurosurgeon then said that the hospital does not do surgeries and that we have to go to a private hospital. He said that I should bring N9 million to remove two tumours. We left the hospital thinking of what to do and by that time, they have already placed him on anti-seizure medication.

How many tumours were found after the scan?

At that time, the doctors said there were just seven tumours in his body. That was in January 2023. We left UPTH looking for how to raise the money and we could not raise the money. So, the issue lingered from January through to around September. Later, a friend of my husband’s went to Lagos to look for other alternatives when the money was not forthcoming. He met another medical doctor. The doctor said he could give us some medication that would clear the tumour, but at the end of the day we spent almost N2 million but the medication never worked. So, after all was said and done, I started begging people for money. That was towards the end of 2023. So, around November 2023, the spine surgery he had previously was still healing and we were doing physiotherapy and spending money, so the physiotherapists referred us to a specialist hospital in Imo State. The physiotherapists told us that there was a neurosurgeon there who could do the surgery at a lower cost. We went to see the neurosurgeon in November. When the doctor saw the scan result, he was surprised because, at that time, the tumours had increased from seven to 12. The neurosurgeon asked us to go and raise money for surgery, we asked him how much the surgery would cost, and he told us that if we could raise N4 million, he could remove the tumour. We left the hospital and returned to Port Harcourt. It was this year that we got to know that the medications given to us were not working. In December, the doctor asked us to go and do an MRI to confirm that all the tumours had died. We did the MRI scan and brought it to him, the doctor told us that some tumours had died but because of our lack of knowledge about the issue, we believed him and we celebrated. However, in January 2024, the eye issue became very serious. As I am talking to you now, the right eye is completely closed. He can’t see with that eye. It’s just the left one that he is using. However, what started with the right eye is now happening to the left eye. We had spent almost N2 million and the treatment was not working. We went back to the Imo doctor as some of his friends raised money for him. We travelled to Imo to see the neurosurgeon who asked us to go back to Port Harcourt and do another MRI because he wanted to know the state of things in his brain now. So we did another MRI in Port Harcourt and brought it to the doctor in Imo when the doctor inserted the scan disc into the system, the man was just shaking his head. He said we had wasted a lot of time. He said we allowed the tumour to grow anyhow in my husband’s brain, he said the tumour on the right eye is now very big, adding that it is covering his right ear. He said that it was a miracle that my husband could still hear. The tumours, he said, have already increased From 12 to 16. The doctor said this case was a critical one and that he was confused. He said while he can do surgery to remove the tumours at the edge because he can easily take them out, the major one is the one at the right eye which is just growing anyhow. He said that he did not know what to do and that N4 million could not do the surgery again. He asked us to go raise N9 million, saying he is going to spend N4 million to remove the tumour at the right eye, and he needs one month to study that tumour because he has not seen such a situation where multiple tumours will be growing in one man’s head. He said that my husband is very lucky that he can still recognise people and still talk. The only thing my husband cannot do is walk properly. Also, his right eye is not seeing. The doctor urged that we should raise the money within one month, giving us between April and the second week of June to raise the N9 million. He warned that if my husband did not come for the surgery as soon as possible, the aggressive tumour in the right eye might cause irreparable damage.

What did the doctors say caused the spinal cord issue?

They said there was no clinical explanation for it. They suggested maybe it was a neurological disorder, or maybe one of the chromosomes that one of his parents gave him had some defect. Three days before the spine surgery, he had a seizure in the hospital, we were asked to do a CT scan, and we did a CT scan, and we were waiting for the doctor at UPTH. It was not my husband’s turn for a spine operation that morning. Another person was scheduled for operation, but that morning. They, however, left that person and came to our room and carried my husband for spine surgery. We told the doctor that he had a seizure and they wanted to delay the operation because of that seizure to know what caused the seizure, those matrons came to pick him up from the ward when it was not yet his time. The doctor that was supposed to conduct the operation entered the theatre and said, this is not the person we asked you to go and bring but because he was already in the theatre, they just went ahead and did the operation. It was after the operation that he had another seizure. The doctor went back to the CT scan and discovered that there were already tumours in the brain before the spine surgery. that operation lasted nine hours, it was supposed to last for five hours because, by the time they opened the spine, they did not see the tumour there again, the doctor had to use his medical knowledge to open another place and now saw the tumour hiding there before they brought it out. So the tumour was already there before the spine surgery.

Were the doctors able to diagnose the cause of the tumour in his brain and what was done concerning the right eyes?

After they discovered that there were tumours in the brain, the neurosurgeon told us the same thing we were told. He said there is no clinical explanation for how the tumours find their way to his brain, adding that while it is possible to see one or two tumours in someone’s brain, having so many is surprising. The amazing thing is that the tumours are not cancerous, that there are meningiomas. They described it as surprising because for a tumour to be many like that in the brain, it’s supposed to indicate that the person has brain cancer. They asked if my husband had ever worked in an industry where they use chemicals and harsh substances, and also asked if my husband contracted COVID-19. After a lot of questions, they ended up having no explanation.

How is he faring now after the surgery?

After the spine surgery, he started doing physiotherapy to get his legs back. The surgery site has completely closed, but there are scars there. He has been on physiotherapy since January 2023, and till now, he has not been able to walk on his own. He has been doing physiotherapy to get the legs back, but the improvement is a bit slow, he has stopped using a wheelchair. He’s using a walker now, but he’s not able to use his legs on his own. The legs cannot carry his weight. However, the doctor told me he would start walking on his own within three to six months. But now, the real challenges are those tumours in the brain. The neurosurgeon in Imo State said that the brain controls every other part of the body. The doctor said that there’s no issue with the spine, although he said when next we come for appointments, we should do a new spine scan so that we can check if everything is in order post-spine surgery, he told us that what is delaying him walking again are the tumours in the brain, adding that some of the tumours are stopping the flow of blood and the flow of some nutrients that his body needs to walk again. He noted that he might not be able to walk on his own until after those tumours are removed.

Are these tumours also responsible for the seizures he’s been having?

Yes, they are responsible for the seizure. But, right now, he has stopped using those anti-seizure medications, because the drugs come with a lot of headache and discomfort. I’m just trusting God to help me raise this money so that he can get the surgery done on time.

Since he stopped using the anti-seizure medications, has he had any seizures?

The seizures have stopped for almost eight months now. When we saw that Imo state, doctor, he said that my husband’s case was just a confusion to him. He said the things that they were expecting to be happening to him were not happening. He said they were expecting him to have some bumps all over his body, yet he does not have bumps on his body. The doctor also said that by now, he was expecting his face to be disfigured because of the number of tumours in his brain, but that is not happening also. He equally said that with the tumours in his brain, he should be finding it difficult to speak or remember things, but that has not happened. I just owe all these things to God. It’s just God. The doctor restated that we should raise N9 million for the brain surgery, noting that the surgery would be done twice because it is not possible to take out the tumour at once.

Have you been able to raise money for the surgery?

After he restated the need for us to raise N9 million, we could no longer keep about our predicament. We reached out to some people and they did some write-up for us. We posted the write-up on Facebook to solicit assistance. As I am talking to you now, we have been able to raise N2 million from Facebook supporters. Some people have been sending different amounts. Though we have raised N2 million, we still have a long way to go because we still have N7 million to raise. So far we have not been able to make headway regarding the money. We have been soliciting funds, and someone told us about this Brekete family house in Abuja where people go to seek financial support. We are hoping when we get to Abuja we will get access to the Brekete house but so far the most support we have gotten is from Facebook.

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