A WOMAN has tragically died just months after discovering seemingly harmless "pins and needles" was actually cancer.
Lydia Carfrae-Brohaska, 36, only saw doctors after the light tingling in her hands and feet spread to her legs and left her unable to walk.
In August 2018, medics diagnosed the qualified solicitor, with an aggressive brain cancer – and she was given just 12-18 months to live.
She battled on for two years but, in May 2020, she passed away from the stage 4 illness – with her mum, Vicky, her husband Stu and sister Carrie by her side.
Carrie has been left heartbroken, but has opened up about the painful experience to warn others of unusual cancer symptoms – and share a loving tribute to her "soulmate".
"I would rather have had 36 years with Lydia than a whole lifetime with any other person – even though the pain of losing her is so hard to bear," Carrie, a musician, said.
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"She fought and showed incredible courage; never once missing an appointment, never once giving up hope, never once saying, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore – it’s too hard," she added.
During the last 20 months she underwent numerous rounds of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy and trialed a novel "tumour treatment" used an electromagnetic field to treat cancer.
In 2019, after months of vigorous treatment, Lydia began showing improvements and decided to go on a belated honeymoon, a cruise along the Panama Canal, with her husband.
But, in April the following year, doctors discovered a new a deadly form of cancer in her brain – called Glioblastoma.
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Around 2,500 glioblastoma cases are diagnosed in the UK each year and only seven percent of patients survive.
"We were heartbroken and couldn't believe this was the beginning of the end," Carrie said.
Carrie and Stu made it their mission to get Lydia back home to the UK to live her final months surrounded by her friends and family.
Within 24 hours of learning about the new tumour, they had booked flights, packed and sorted their apartment.
They then travelled from Houston to Heathrow in the first class cabin, bringing their dog, Pompey, with them.
"We set up a day bed in our conservatory so that she could see the garden and chat to friends through the windows.
"We played card games, watched TV, and talked about so many things. We were truly blessed to have this precious time together."
What are the signs of brain cancer
Symptoms of brain cancer can vary depending on what part of the brain is affected. The NHS states that you may not immediately have symptoms but that symptoms can develop and become more severe over time.
Headaches can be caused by a myriad of reasons, you could be dehydrated or even stressed.
Most of the time headaches can be fixed by pain killers, but if your headache is persistent or is getting worse, then this could be a sign of brain cancer.
If you are suffering with nausea and regular sickness is unexplained this could be a sign of brain cancer.
The NHS advises if you persistently feel sick or if you are consistently being sick and you feel drowsy you should see your GP.
Seizures can often be a red flag you may have a brain tumour.
It is when you suffer an involuntary movement and are unable to control your arms or legs.
Feeling weak is not unusual – if you haven't eaten enough or have really exerted yourself you can feel a bit wobbly.
But feeling weak regularly despite being rested, eating well and with no other known reason is a warning sign of cancer you should get checked out.
5. Vision or speech problems
Speech problems and fuzzy vision can be signs of all sorts of conditions.
Too much booze, or feeling stressed or anxious could bring on these symptoms.
But it is often a red flag of a tumour – going to your optician or the GP is the next step if you've noticed a change.
6. Behaviour changes
It is common to feel many different moods and emotions throughout one day.
Generally stress or the task you are doing will be the cause, but if you have noticed a change in yourself or loved one that you can't explain, it could be a sign of cancer.
The NHS says: "Mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality", could be signs of breast cancer."
On Friday May 22 2020, Lydia passed away peacefully with her family by her side.
A small glimmer of light in the tragedy came from her passion for raising money for charity and for the NHS, which she continued doing until the very end.
Her family have since continued her legacy and set up the Lydia's Wish foundation – raising a total of £15,000 for Brain Tumour Research UK to help fund critical research.
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Carrie says her sister will be with her for the rest of her life and hopes to make her proud.
"Her presence will guide my life as a force of good and I will make her proud of me, just like I was, and always will be, immeasurably proud of her," she added.
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