A CHARD woman who spent her childhood with an undiagnosed brain tumour is supporting The Brain Tumour Charity awareness campaign of the warning signs.

Natasha Tims, 30, is championing the 'Better Safe than Tumour' initiative to highlight symptoms and encourage people to get checked out.

In adults, this includes severe headaches, changes to vision, tiredness, nausea, speech difficulties and seizures.

In children, symptoms may also include balance, co-ordination or walking problems, loss of taste and smell, abnormal head position, regular sickness and excessive thirst.

Natasha had some of the symptoms aged 15, including delayed puberty and limited growth.

It was only after Natasha fell in her garden that she was referred to an endocrinologist.

Blood tests confirmed a hormone imbalance and an MRI scan showed a thickening of Natasha’s pituitary stalk.

She was originally diagnosed with Langerhans’ cell histiocytosis (LCH), a condition which affects the pituitary gland, as well as diabetes insipidus.

But several years later, when Natasha was having headaches and eye pain, she was diagnosed with a germ cell tumour.

She said: “The headaches were so painful and made me feel sick. I had no energy so I couldn’t go out – I stayed in bed all day and even walking to the bathroom was too much effort.

“It's still shocking it took 15 years to get an accurate diagnosis when, as I now know the symptoms I had were common ones for brain tumours in young people. But my family and I are also very happy that we finally have the right information and now we know that this is just something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

“More accurate information about the warning signs of brain tumours, which this campaign provides, can only help with this."

Dr David Jenkinson, of The Brain Tumour Charity said: “We’re really grateful to Natasha for supporting the ‘Better Safe Than Tumour’ campaign by sharing her story to highlight just why we need to raise more awareness of the disease.

"While brain tumours remain relatively rare, incidence has continued to rise significantly over the last two decades, and this has unfortunately not yet been matched by the tangible progress in diagnosis, treatment and survival outcomes seen in many other cancers.

“We absolutely want to reassure people, that despite this increase in cases, brain tumours are still uncommon. But it’s so important that we see greater awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease to ensure anyone affected can get the diagnosis, treatment and support they need at the earliest opportunity."