A Thornbury dad has been diagnosed with a brain tumour after his optician sent him to A&E during an eye test.

Rob Tillen is being treated for a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which doctors discovered in August. His shock diagnosis came after weeks of symptoms, including vision problems and migraines.

Rob’s fiancée, Annabel, is now raising money for him to have treatment overseas.

“Rob was out running one day in June, when suddenly he felt like his vision had ‘shifted’ to one side," she said.

"He said it looked as though everything was ‘lop-sided’.

"By the end of July, his vision was getting worse and one day in August, he had his first ever migraine, which lasted a whole day. On August 11 he went for an eye test at Specsavers in Thornbury, to try to get to the bottom of his symptoms.”

Not long into the appointment, the optician spotted something behind Rob’s eye and he sent him straight to A&E at Southmead Hospital.

Annabel said: “Covid-19 restrictions meant that Rob had to go in to hospital alone. He was there for several hours and at around 1am the next day, he called asking me to go to Southmead.

"When I arrived, Rob took me into a bay and told me they’d found a brain tumour. I was totally blind-sided. I asked him if it was cancer and he said he didn’t know.

"Naively, we both thought if it was a tumour, they’d be able cut it out and that would be then end of it. We later realised how wrong we were.”

On August 23, just 11 days after his diagnosis, Rob, who is dad to 16-year-old Teddy, had a craniotomy during which his surgeon managed to remove at least 98% of the tumour.

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However, on September 2, Rob and Annabel found out the tumour was a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), meaning it is very likely to grow back.

Annabel said: “We’d been told it looked like a high-grade tumour before we got the biopsy results but, even so, hearing the prognosis was hard. Rob asked about his life expectancy and without much hesitation, the surgeon delivered the grim news that it was approximately 15 months. We were devastated.”

In November, Rob completed a six-week course of radiotherapy with concurrent chemotherapy at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

He is currently on high-dose chemotherapy to try to delay the inevitable regrowth of his incurable tumour.

Meanwhile, Annabel, who is due to marry Rob this summer, is fundraising to help pay for private treatment overseas.

She said: “I’m looking into targeted peptide vaccines, available at a clinic in Germany, called CeGat.

"The treatment is personalised and would aim to encourage Rob’s immune system to attack the tumour. But it comes at a huge cost. We need to raise £350,000."

Annabel says she is 'very grateful' for the £1,400 which has been donated to her GoFundMe page far, but admits she still has 'a mountain to climb.'

To encourage donations, Annabel has set herself the challenge of walking 500 miles over six weeks. She started on December 11 and will finish on the last day of January.

Having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) during lockdown last year, she is battling ‘MS legs’, which often feel ‘heavy’ and she gets pins and needles but she says: “thinking of Rob and everything he’s going through gets me through it”.

Mel Tiley, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, said: “We are so sorry to learn of Rob’s diagnosis with a GBM and send him our very best wishes for his ongoing treatment.

"The fact that Annabel is having to explore expensive private treatment options overseas is just not good enough.

"We, as a charity, are campaigning for more funding into brain tumour research to help find better treatments, which can be made available on the NHS. Ultimately, our mission is to find a cure for brain tumours to help prevent more families from being torn apart by this awful disease.”

To donate go to tinyurl.com/45vks7xc