My name is Zoe, and I was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme in March 2023 at the age of 24. It came as a surprise – I thought my symptoms were from post-concussion, following hitting my head when I lost consciousness after donating blood for the first time. However, when I booked an Optician’s appointment, due to noticing more blurred vision without my glasses and double vision with them on, (things I thought were prescription related), they immediately had me come in for medical tests saying it sounded like a medical problem, rather than my prescription.
During these tests and scans, it was found I had upper left peripheral vision loss and papilledema. Papilledema is the swelling of the optic nerves due to increased intracranial pressure, basically meaning increased pressure within the skull.
From there I was asked to go straight to the nearest emergency eye clinic, where I had a lumbar puncture to ease pressure, and an MRI to try and find the cause. I spent the next 12 days moving between three different hospitals across Kent and London, having a variety of scans and blood tests. At first it was suspected to be an infection, and then my first major working diagnosis was CNS Lymphoma. However, after a biopsy at Kings, it was determined that I had GBM4, and I was referred to The Royal Marsden for immediate treatment.
The Dream Factory made it possible for myself and my best friend of 14 years, Rach, to visit the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent.
We were lucky enough to spend the night in one of their beautiful lodges and had the once in a lifetime opportunity of hand feeding big cats of our choice.
We had a VIP tour with a keeper and were waited on hand and foot by their lovely staff. We learnt a lot about all the cats, conservation of species, and so much more … (we now know how to tell the difference between leopards, cheetahs, and jaguars. And did you know that the panther doesn’t actually exist and that white tigers are actually due to a genetic mutation called leucism? Oh… and there’s no tiger native to India, despite what children’s cartoons may lead you to believe…)!
Without the Dream Factory, this was something we never could have afforded to, and gave us a chance to make precious memories and share an exciting experience together with the time we have left.