The Day My World Changed

Thank you for taking this walk with me – my name is Sam. I am 34 and was born, lived, studied and worked in London all my life. On Tuesday 4th Feb 2020 (a day which I call my “Revival”!), I left work early to get myself home as I wasn’t quite feeling myself. Upon reflection, I hadn’t really been feeling myself for a couple of days but I had put it down to the fact that maybe I was just a little run down. In the week leading up to 4th Feb there were 3 or 4 occasions where I noticed a weird chemical smell that came out of nowhere and would go after 30 seconds but I didn’t feel like it was significant enough to even mention. In hindsight I should’ve probably told my wife or GP but I just assumed it was my mind playing tricks on me (ironically it kind of was!). BUT on that Tuesday, the smell completely engulfed my senses and just wouldn’t go away – I knew something wasn’t right. I jumped on the Northern Line train to get myself home, closed my eyes to get some rest but the next 48 hours are completely blank to me…

I had collapsed on the tube and had a grand mal seizure which I had never had before (a grand mal seizure – also known as a tonic-clonic seizure – is where you lose consciousness and have uncontrollable jerking and shaking of your whole body). A kind member of the public pulled the passenger alarm and we stopped at Balham station. I believe this was God’s grace as the closest hospital to this station is St George’s which has a well renowned Neurosurgery centre (also close to my home). I was received at the station by some amazing TFL staff and paramedics who helped me off the train. Whilst in the ambulance on my way to the hospital I had 2 more grand mal seizures and somewhere in the chaos I dislocated my right shoulder (typically me, can’t just have a seizure, always going the extra mile!). My wife happened to call my mobile while I was in the ambulance and according to her, she thought I’d spent the afternoon in the pub! The Paramedic was kind enough to explain what was going on to her. I’ve never really reflected on how she must have felt at this point until writing this, but being the loving wife and brilliant doctor that she is, I can imagine it was a mixture of fear, panic and symptom analysis that were whirring through her mind.

Initially nobody knew what was wrong with me and I underwent a number of scans and tests. The first trail of thought was could this be Encephalitis? Encephalitis is an inflammation of one of the brain layers usually caused by an infection, which can still be very serious but also treatable. A CT scan in A&E came back with conflicting reports – one junior radiologist was worried about a “highly suspicious lesion” (a term docs use to politely say crappy tumour or cancer!) but was overridden by the consultant radiologist who said more likely Encephalitis – Phew, we thought! While I was waiting to have my MRI scan (a lot of emergency scans that day meant I was unable to have one done immediately) they did a lumbar puncture to see if they could confirm this. This is where they take a sample of brain fluid through a needle in your spine but the results came back completely normal. My wife didn’t tell me at the time but this is when her world shattered. I just assumed the more normal the results were the better, little did I know that this meant they were excluding every other cause of these seizures, making the diagnosis that we all feared the most more likely. Eventually it was the MRI on the Thursday morning that confirmed our worst fears. This was a brain tumour. A big one. It wasn’t a clean round mass but more like a web – any of you Marvel fans like me might like an analogy to Spider-Man’s web… That’s what it honestly looked like… a web that was coating over my normal brain tissue. Except I didn’t have any super powers. I had a tumour in my brain.

God works in mysterious ways as the Neurologist on call that day was my dad’s cousin and he found the courage to come and personally break the news to me in the kindest way possible. To be honest the moment I heard the words “Brain Tumour” it felt like life stopped, I don’t really remember what he said after that – I thought that was it for me, I was going to die within a few days and I would never get to see my daughters grow up.

It took a few days to process those words, but what it really meant was that my eyes had been opened properly for what felt like the first time…

15 thoughts on “The Day My World Changed

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  1. Dear Sam,

    as you sad everyone has his/her own battle in life. You will worry about it, but you shouldn’t! You have a wonderful family! God won’t allow you to lose this battle! You’ll see your daughters grow, how they graduate, how they get married, just everything! Stay strong and kick out the tumor 🙌🏾

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  2. Hi Sam, you don’t know me but I have met your sister and mum whilst I came for a make up trial. I just wanted to tell you a story of a woman that I have known for a very long time. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer when she got married, underwent treatment, had two beautiful girls, then was diagnosed with womb cancer, underwent treatment, was in remission but got diagnosed with pancreatic cancers few years later and then leukaemia. She refused treatment for pancreatic cancer because she had enough and then when she got leukaemia she refused any chemo or radio and when offered to her, accepted a bone marrow transplant. All of this happened over a time of 25 years. She is now well and very much alive. From her very first diagnosis till now, the only thing she would say to me is “God is good all the time”. She never wavered. I believe God was being my pillar of strength through her when I lost my mum to cancer. I had lots of questions after my mum died, and she will say to me “God is good ALL the time”. So keep the faith, trust in Him. He has a plan. A positive mindset will give you much strength. Aanzi.

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  3. What an emotional piece a brave man you are. We are all rooting for you and in our daily prayers. Keep writing so we can walk this journey with you. You have an amazing family and loved by all your friends.

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  4. Hello Sam – I hope you are well. I have just stumbled across your writing post some Facebook scrolling and I am glad I did today. We have met a few times briefly – but not sure if you remember me. It’s so amazing that you are sharing your story and being so strong about this. Life is a mystical journey and I have no doubt you can get through this. It’s only the crappy things that make us grow and wake up to what life really is about and being musical, devoted to God and surrounded by the love that you have, I have no doubt that you are going to get through this in a magical way.

    I’m sure lots of people are suggesting lots of things to you and no doubt you have your own way at the moment to be dealing with this. But if any part of you says you are slightly interested in what I am going to suggest, please give it a go – watch Rewired by Dr Joe Dispenza (it’s on a website called gaia.com – the spiritual Netflix if you have not already heard of it). I really feel you are going to do something amazing with this situation 🧡🧡 Good luck and looking forward to see you through this.

    Stay strong 💪

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    1. Thank you so much – i really appreciate the kind message. And yeah it took a big wake up call! but i’m glad i got the call either way!!!
      Will defo check out that program. Thank you for wishes, and thank you for coming with me on this journey! 🙂

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  5. Hi Sam I read your blog this morning and it’s very sad that you have been diagnosed with this. I don’t really know you personally but I have met you on a few occasions at parties but I know your wife well . I know you have a passion for music and your beautiful wife is a great singer. I sincerely hope that you have many years spending time with your daughters and your beautiful wife because you deserve it . You have had the strength and courage to accept and write about your diagnosis and this shows what a strong willed person you are . Like you say in a moment out world can be changed like yours was but you have the strength and the support of your wife family and friends to lead your life the best as you can in the current circumstances but most of all enjoy your girls as they grow up and before you know it you’ll be walking them down the aisle. Thank you for sharing your story and giving others the courage and determination to accept what ever is found in your walk of life and deal with it in a positive way x

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  6. Hello Sam.

    My Name is Ms Chandra Benjamin from Sydney Australia.

    I am a distant relative of yours. My Late Dad (Dr Victor Benjamin_ General Surgeon) is a 2nd cousin of your maternal Grandmother (Sothy) and I remember your Mother (Nilanthi) from Chundikuli who was senior to me at School. Your Great Great Grandfather (Rev Joseph Benjamin I think) and my Great Grandfather (Dr Richard Benjamin) are 2 Brothers who converted to Christianity in Jaffna SL.

    I am really touched by your sharing your story and praying for your complete healing in the Name of Jesus, by His Stripes you are Healed, May the web of tumour at present invading your brain shrink and disappear and I am praying that when they do the scans in God’s timing there will be no trace of it and praying Psalm 118_17 and Psalms 91, 103 over your Life. May you live the Full length of your days in Health in Jesus Name.

    Be strong, Jesus overcame every sickness and overcame the brain tumour on your behalf on the Cross.

    May we hear miracle testimonies in the time God chooses to completely heal you.

    My Prayers and Blessings are with you and your most beautiful Wife (Dr Chindhu) and your precious Daughters. Loved looking at all your Family Photos, a very Blessed and Treasured, Beautiful Family in Christ.

    Blessings

    Chandra Benjamin
    Australia

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  7. God says he gives he’s toughest soldiers the hardest tests. Whilst your brain maybe in disarray, you’re mind is ever sharp, evident from the way you write. I would say fight, but you’re a fighter, I would say prayer, by you’re a devotee. I would say love, but you’re a lover, I would say give but you’re a giver. Hence all I can say is thank you for being an inspiration. For generations of young men and women going through the struggle. I cannot understand your fears but can empathise. The only think I want to say is the darkest nights bring the lightest of Dawns.

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  8. Hi Sam,

    I stumbled across you on you Instagram and your fight is inspiring and having a never give up attitude is what is needed and you seem to just have that!

    I’m Jey and at 37 I never expected to be diagnosed with anything, but I had a single occurrence of Syncope during Kung Fu and I ended up in the hospital and they diagnosed me with an irregular heartbeat and told me to take a tablet to lower my heartbeat, I did for a week and then I said to myself, this can’t be right! I went private and the consultant told me not to take the tablet. I ditched the tablet and later the NHS Consultant agreed on the same. I decided to get a monitor implanted and 2,5 years on I have not had a single occurrence and I gym at least 5 days a week and I do CrossFit too.

    Fast forward to 39 and I had a high platelet count on a blood test that the GP asked me to do for a checkup for the heart condition, and so I went through different diagnosis and different scans and it turns out I have a type of blood cancer, and a limited lifespan. Nobody knows when this will go to the limit where I will need treatment. I’m keeping my head up and training every day and fighting.

    I have a big family, my wife and two kids like you and I want to be there for them but like you – I have started to live life differently.

    I am positive despite all this and I will never give up staying alive, I have realized that your body responds to your mental state so staying positive helps and I am living for my goals and dreams.

    I keep smiling and I stay happy for everyone around me and myself.

    Keep believing in yourself and your future and wonders will happen !

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    1. wow man – first and foremost I pray for your health and your journey. I feel like each day is a massive battle but the mindset, that positivity is the key – you find that, you find a way forward. Keep believing, keep smiling, keep fighting. Much love bro, Sam

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