Philippa Forrester talks about son’s brain tumour

The TV presenter appeared on This Morning 18 months since her son was treated for a brain tumour at age 15.

Philippa Forrester
Credit:Charlie Hamilton James

Her main message is about early diagnosis – and she is encouraging parents to seek help if they see a range of symptoms fitting together. Philippa, whose family lives in Wyoming in the US, said of her son Fred: “He was struggling to organise himself, struggling to concentrate, but all his teachers were saying ‘but he’s got such a great attitude and he’s such a nice person and we don’t really get it’.” She continued: “He would forget everything. Everyday I’d be in with his lunch, or his calculator, or his books. And he was tired all the time and people were saying ‘He’s 15. He’s a 15-year-old boy – what do you expect? He’s going to be scatty; he’s going to be tired’.” Other symptoms included what the family thought were migraines – but the headaches were waking Fred up. He was also vomiting. When Fred told his mum that looking at his computer too long made the screen go blurry they had Fred’s eyes tested. The optometrist said that Fred’s optic nerves were swollen and that he should have an MRI scan. The resulting diagnosis was a 6cm brain tumour (PNGT glioma). On being told at the hospital Philippa said: “I said ‘Are we going to lose him?’ and the guy said ‘I think you are’.” She continued: “30 people today will go through that diagnosis day, which is why it’s so important to reach out and say there’s support there.” Fortunately the tumour was successfully removed in a four-hour operation. But Philippa explains in the television interview how she crumbled when her son went into theatre and the thoughts she had while he was in surgery. She said that Fred, now 17, is ‘better and better all the time’ and they both recognise his improvements in carrying out certain tasks. The TV presenter is spreading awareness for Brain Tumour Awareness Month and the Headsmart campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms to reduce the diagnosis time further. You can watch the full video from This Morning here. Philippa and Fred’s story has also appeared in several newspapers including The Telegraph, York Press, The Sun and The Mirror.
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