Inside story of how teenager's headaches revealed brain tumour - and the Sheffield medical team who brought him back to health

16-year-old Jake Tindale was studying for his GCSE exams last December when he began suffering with headaches.

Monday, 23rd August 2021, 1:22 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd August 2021, 1:25 pm
The family have raised almost £3,000 to say thank you

After his mum witnessed Jake unexpectantly faint, she took him to the Emergency Department at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Clinicians ran tests and arranged for an MRI scan which revealed a brain tumour.

Mum Katie Woolhouse recalls: “We knew something wasn’t quite right, but we never expected it to be a brain tumour. We were all shocked, but the whirlwind few weeks that followed didn’t allow us time to take it in.”

Jake was diagnosed with a Grade II tumour, which is a non-cancerous growth. Within 72 hours of being given the news, Jake and his family began their isolation period prior to his surgery.

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Jake during treatment at Sheffield Children's Hospital

Stepdad Chris adds: “That time was quite traumatic- lots of family and friends wanted to see Jake before his surgery, but we had to say no. We couldn’t risk one of us testing positive and the operation being delayed.

Five days later, on December 23, Jake arrived for his operation at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, travelling through heavy snow. The procedure, to remove the tumour, would take a total of six hours.

Jake then spent the night in the Intensive Care Unit, before being moved to a ward to continue his recovery on Christmas Eve. He was then discharged on Christmas Day.

Mum Katie adds: “We weren’t expecting to be home so soon, so friends, family and neighbours gathered some food and party poppers together for a makeshift Christmas meal.”

L-R Katie Woolhouse, Jake Tindale and Chris Woolhouse

Jake was too tired however to open his presents, having to wait until New Year’s Eve before he discovered Santa had brought a driving experience, Nintendo Switch and copious amounts of chocolate!

The whirlwind experience may have only lasted three weeks, but the care they received at Sheffield Children’s left a lasting impression:

Stepdad Chris Woolhouse explains: “The care was absolutely fantastic; it was first class. Whoever we met was unbelievable, particularly our family liaison officer, who came to visit us on Christmas Eve and always answered our calls, as well as the Neurosurgery Team and Jake’s surgeon, Dr Ushewokunze, who was with us all the way.

Jake adds: “Everyone was absolutely amazing with me. I’m really grateful for the care I received and to have Sheffield Children’s Hospital so close by. Even though it was very dramatic, I feel fortunate that it was all over so quickly.”

16-year-old Jake passed all his GCSEs this summer

Jake received the all-clear in May and will continue to be routinely scanned every year for the next five years to ensure it has not returned. Despite everything he went through, Jake passed every subject in his GCSE’s this summer. He started a new part-time job this week and in September, will start sixth form to complete his A-levels.

To express their gratitude and appreciation, Jake, Chris and Katie took on a challenge to run 5K every day in June. They raised almost £3,000 for good causes in total, including £930 for The Children’s Hospital Charity.

“I was stiff after day one!” stepdad Chris jokes; “None of us go to the gym or do huge amounts of exercise, but the hardest thing was fitting it in your day. But so many people sponsored us, including complete strangers or people we’d lost touch with, so we dare not do it!

“It was the least we could do- we thank our lucky stars for how Jake’s treatment turned out. There’s something a little special about Sheffield Children’s, we are so fortunate to have it on our doorstep and it’s up to us all to support it where we can.”

To find out more about The Children’s Hospital Charity’s work to transform Sheffield Children’s, visit www.tchc.org.uk