This teenager tragically had her memory wiped by treatment for brain tumour
We don't often appreciate how important our own memory is. Without it, life would be almost unbearable, and it's actually a surprisingly fragile thing indeed. In movies and soap operas, amnesia is downright commonplace, and all it takes is a tap on the head to make characters forget everything about their own lives. But this cliche has become a tragic reality for teenager Charlotte Reid, after botched therapy ended up 'wiping' her memory.
The trouble began after doctors discovered a grape-sized tumour in Charlotte's brain, which was causing agonising migraine headaches they initially attributed to exam stress. Not only that, but the tumour was also growing over her pituitary gland, which meant that she hadn't gone through puberty.
Charlotte, who hails from Devon in England, was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma in July 2015, and doctors determined that the only way to shrink the tumour was through proton beam therapy - in which subatomic particles are shot out of a miniature particle accelerator and used to kill the cancerous cells. Unfortunately for Charlotte, there were complications which affected her memory.
Commenting on her daughter's memory lapses, Charlotte's mother Angie stated: "Her life has been turned upside down by the side effects, which are huge and life-changing. At the time, we knew she had to have the treatment to save her life. There was no choice but it has had a serious impact. She won’t remember what day of the week it is, or even what she had for lunch. She never looks forward to things, because she doesn’t remember they are going to happen. She doesn’t remember if she has had a nice treat. It’s quite difficult for me as a mum. I spend a lot of time answering questions for her."
She added: "We are trying to take lots of photographs, as memory aids and writing notes to try to help her.“The brain is quite an amazing thing. It can restructure itself, but it does take years. We feel we are very much at the beginning of the journey at the minute ... Many of her problems can be controlled with medication, but it is constant trial and error. Her vision won’t come back and we don’t know what will happen with her memory. They don’t really say what the situation will be but it takes a lot of time. It is a case of wait and see."
Charlotte currently attends the hospital school, and her family are currently fundraising for Brain Tumour Research, to raise awareness of her condition. Angie is also hopeful that one day Charlotte will be able to attend Exeter College in September, and take a course called 'Path to Independence' there. If you'd like to support Charlotte and her family, and provide money for research into brain cancers, then why not check out her JustGiving profile and make a donation to her fund?