Recovery after brain surgery

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A WOMAN who was refused state-of-the-art cancer treatment on the NHS is recovering at home after undergoing open brain surgery.

The operation on Sarah Hargreaves (38) of North Wingfield was successfully carried out last week, and despite being heavily invasive and carrying multiple health risks she was able to return home on Thursday.

She was refused specialist gamma knife treatment on the NHS earlier this year, because she lived a few miles out of the Sheffield area and NHS Derbyshire County would not fund the operation.

After waiting nearly four weeks for them to make their decision, one of Sarah’s two tumours had grown too large to operate on using the gamma knife, and despite securing the £10,000 needed to have the treatment privately, she was forced to undergo open brain surgery.

Speaking to the Derbyshire Times last month, Sarah said she blamed NHS Derbyshire County for waiting so long to give her a decision, citing the NHS ‘postcode lottery’ as the reason for her refusal.

A spokesperson for NHS Derbyshire County, said: “In making the decision, we follow the policy set in place for the whole East Midlands area. They are really difficult decisions we have to make.”

The gamma knife has treated more than 500,000 people worldwide with a range of brain diseases, including cancer - yet access to the proven technique among NHS patients remains dependent on location.

But despite the heartbreak of the past few months, Sarah - who has battled cancer in her liver and breasts over the past two years - is now recovering after having the tumours removed.

“She is doing really well,” said Sarah’s friend Lisa Mathers from Dronfield. “She is quite battered and bruised from the operation, but she is looking to get gamma knife treatment when the swelling has gone down.”

Sarah was given £10,000 by Chesterfield-based charity, Cancer Relief UK, after they heard of her battle for funding – money that will now be spent on gamma knife surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells in her brain.

In order to aid the charity, Lisa is holding a fundraising event on Saturday May 21. From 2pm, there will be a bouncy castle, barbecue and car wash at the Miner’s Arms, Dronfield Woodhouse, and from 7.30pm there is a buffet, auction, raffle and disco at Dronfield Woodhouse Sports and Social Club.

Tickets are £5 for the evening and are available on the door.

If anyone can donate prizes for the auction and raffle, contact Lisa Mathers on 07871 675870.

ellie.hunter@derbyshiretimes.co.uk