11-Year-Old Girl Misdiagnosed 30 Times Before Brain Tumor Diagnosis

After enduring persistent headaches, a young girl of 11 underwent a staggering 30 assessments by medical professionals over three years before finally receiving a diagnosis of a brain tumor.

She was told she had migraines and was prescribed paracetamol to manage the symptoms.

Tia Gordon, hailing from Northampton, fell ill for the first time during the Covid lockdown in March 2020. Her health declined over time, with bouts of illness occurring more frequently. During that period, Tia experienced frequent morning sickness and had daily episodes of vomiting from November 2023 to January 2024.

The doctors repeatedly missed the presence of her tumor and, instead, informed her parents that she was probably a stomach bug. After developing new symptoms, including a stiff neck, the doctors attributed it to her sleeping position and referred her to a physiotherapist.

She was informed that the wait for an MRI scan would be a minimum of eight months.

However, when her condition began to impact her balance and mobility, she was admitted to the hospital. An emergency scan revealed the presence of a 3.5cm brain tumor in her case, specifically a pilocytic astrocytoma, which is the most frequently occurring type of childhood brain tumor. A surgery lasting over 10 hours successfully removed the benign tumor from the girl.

Tia had her glasses prescription changed four times before the tumor was detected.

According to Imogen, one of the initial suggestions given to her, considering the season, was to increase Tia’s water intake. She received a diagnosis of migraines and was prescribed paracetamol to manage the symptoms.

For over three years, Tia’s journey involved multiple visits to doctors, encountering challenges such as being denied MRIs and access to emergency pediatrics. The situation prompted calls to 111 and visits to A&E.

It wasn’t until she reached a point where she was unable to walk that she finally received the necessary care.

An MRI scan will be scheduled every three months for the next five years. In addition, physiotherapy sessions are being attended, and regular meetings with neurologists are being held.

Meanwhile, Tia is eager to resume her activities.

Cameron Miller, the director of external affairs and strategy at the Brain Tumour Charity, expressed his good wishes for Tia’s ongoing treatment and extended gratitude to Imogen for sharing her story. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. Many brain tumor patients face the frustrating reality of lengthy diagnosis times. This key factor drives our advocacy for a National Brain Tumour Strategy.