A mum with a devastating terminal brain tumour has created memory boxes for her girls
A mum-of-two with a terminal brain tumour has created memory boxes for her two young daughters.
Stacie Rafton, 34, from Selby, North Yorkshire, was first diagnosed with a brain tumour last January after a seizure – something doctors first thought was a stroke.
Devastated, Stacie’s cancerous tumour was already the size of a golf ball and despite undergoing surgery, she was later told it was incurable – and she had a maximum of five years left to live.
The full time mum has since decided to create memory boxes with her husband, Kenny, 36, and their two young daughters, Sophie, seven and Chloe, 13.
Stacie hopes the boxes which include staples from brain surgery, birthday cards, flight tickets and school certificates, will help her daughters remember her.
Stacie, a former carer, said: “I was terrified after I’d had the seizure but I never imagined it would be anything serious.
“I’d been plagued by headaches and tiredness since I was 15 but I was always told it was down to stress by doctors.
“But after finally having an MRI scan last January, I was given a date for surgery and later told it was cancerous.
“Instantly I thought about my girls, Sophie and Chloe, and all the things I would miss, their graduations, weddings, and meeting their children.
“I was heartbroken, I didn’t want to miss out on all of those special family events.
“After my diagnosis I had to wait six weeks before I had the brain operation on March 31.
“I wasn’t worried, I just wanted to get it over and done with so I could start to feel myself again.
“After I’d recovered and dealt with the news, I decided not to waste any more time not being positive and creating memories with my family.
“It’s heart breaking to picture their lives without me, I have known Kenny for 16 years and to think of him having to plan my funeral breaks my heart.
“The boxes contain a range of things, from a water bottle I took to every radiotherapy session to birthday cards, stables from my brain surgery and holiday bracelets.
“I basically pop anything in that I think will remind them all of me and us as a family.”
Stacie endured radiotherapy after surgery in an attempt to shrink her brain tumour further – as well as 33 sessions of chemotherapy.
She added: “I was offered a clinical trial for oral chemotherapy and since then my tumour has been stable.
“I have scans every three months and even though my tumour, which called Anaplastic Astrocytoma, won’t completely disappear, it’s good to know it’s not grown in over a year.
“The tumour I have is between a grade two and three, and thankfully it’s slow growing which means more time with my family.
“My aim is for my girls to live as normal life as possible, I hate how my illness afters my family.
“There’s so much I wanted to achieve but now I have a time limit on everything, I wrote down a bucket list.
“I want to jump out of a plane, learn to snowboard and take the kids to Disney while I’m still well enough.
“I have no idea how long my scans will stay stable for and I have to make the most out of every day.
“Despite having to take a three hour nap every afternoon just to keep up with the kids.”
Stacie believes she’s lived with her tumour for almost two decades.
She said: “I think the brain tumour first started to grow when I was a teenager as that’s when my problems with headaches and tiredness first started.
“Despite my prognosis now, I’m trying to remain happy and in July I held a ‘happy party.’
“I wanted to celebrate life and make memories with loved ones. We also raised money for the Brain Tumour Charity.”
Stacie now lives on a daily cocktail of medication to control her pain.
She added: “I have my ups and my downs, but my family keep me going strong.
“I have to take so many pain killers such as morphine, codeine and epilepsy medication.
“It’s been hard adjusting to living my life now I have a brain tumour but with creating the memory box and bucket list, I’m going to live my final years to the fullest.”
Stacie is now taking legal action against her local doctors after claiming her initial symptoms of reoccurring headaches and fatigue were ignored.
NHS Vale of York has declined to comment due to confidentiality.
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