Betsy’s Story

When Betsy was two-and-a-half, doctors discovered that she had a large brain tumour.  Her Mum, Rochelle tells Betsy’s story.

Betsy was a very content baby and toddler who slept and ate well and was developing like any other child. But just before Betsy’s second birthday she started to want to be carried all the time and often said she was ‘poorly’.

We took Betsy to the doctors several times trying to find the reasons for her sleepiness and her sudden lack of interest in playing. One day I noticed that Betsy’s eye seemed to be wobbling, and I took her straight to the GP. When an eye specialist looked behind Betsy’s eyes she said they didn’t look healthy and sent Betsy for an MRI scan.

We very quickly received the devastating news that Betsy had a large brain tumour and we were told that her vision had been severely affected. She would need 18 months of chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumour and maintain the little vision she had left.
18 months on, Betsy is now at the end of her chemotherapy and is currently registered blind. The tumour initially shrank, and has now remained stable for the last year. When we heard the news that our two and a half year old daughter had a brain tumour, I remember feeling like I just wanted to hide – but knew we had to fight and focus on ways to enrich Betsy’s life as much as possible.

Around this time my cousin told me about Nordoff Robbins. Betsy had always loved music, with Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and Dolly Parton among her favourite artists. I knew that music therapy would be something she would respond to, and so Betsy began her weekly sessions.
Tuesdays had become a difficult day full of treatments and checks – but now Tuesdays have become Betsy’s music day where she has fun, plays music and chats to Oli her therapist. I know music therapy is much more than this, but it’s lovely that Betsy sees it this way.

Music therapy has benefitted Betsy hugely. Her vision loss and chemotherapy has impacted on her ability to concentrate, but through music Oli has worked with Betsy to encourage her to complete her own ideas.

Music therapy has also boosted Betsy’s self-esteem and encouraged her inbuilt passion for music. She is very creative and she now not only plays and experiments with existing songs but writes and plays her own songs!

This makes us so happy because Betsy has such a wonderful imagination and excellent understanding of vocabulary, which music therapy is really nurturing.