health

'Doctors diagnosed me with "stress", but I was suffering from something sinister.'

Geelong’s Courtney Gibb is used to feeling healthy and strong. She’s a regular gym goer, who’s won the title of Miss Fitness three times. But last Christmas, the 28-year-old started experiencing strange symptoms.

“I felt really dizzy and really nauseous,” Gibb tells Mamamia. “I put it down to I’d just had a baby seven months ago and it was maybe my hormones re-aligning.

“Then there was one day I was completely bedridden. I just felt so, so sick.

“I couldn’t focus properly and my vision was a bit distorted.”

Gibb went to a doctor, who diagnosed her as having vertigo and put her on medication. But it only made her feel worse. She went back to the doctor and asked about having a CT scan or an MRI.

“She pretty much screwed her face up and said, ‘No, there’s nothing wrong with you,’” Gibb says.

courtney gibb cancer
Gibb during competition. Source: provided.

So Gibb went to her family doctor. He felt sure her symptoms were stress-related.

“You’re under a lot of stress, you’ve got a baby, your husband works away,” he told her.

Gibb couldn’t accept what he was telling her. She insisted on a CT scan, which showed she had a cyst on her brain, in the region of her pineal gland. But the doctor told her it had nothing to do with the symptoms she was experiencing.

courtney gibb cancer
Gibb with her husband and son. Source: provided.
ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s just a coincidence,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gibb’s symptoms were getting worse. Although she still had a few good days, where she was experiencing nothing more than a headache, she had a lot more bad days. With her husband Cody a fly-in-fly-out worker, her mother-in-law had to step in to help her look after her baby son, Hunter.

“Eventually I had to have Cody’s mum over every day, helping feed my son, bathe my son,” she remembers. “I would get really, really upset that I couldn’t sit down on the ground and play with Hunter and just be normal.

courtney gibb cancer
Gibb with her young son. Source: provided.

“I was getting so bad, to the point that Cody just ended up coming home because I had just become so dizzy and my vision was just so distorted.

“I started getting new symptoms as well, muscle twitches and tingling in my hands and feet. It became really quite scary. It was terrifying. I was in tears every day.”

Eventually, Gibb’s family doctor told her he’d been doing a bit more research into the type of cyst she had. But Gibb had been doing research of her own. She found out that Sydney-based neurosurgeon Charlie Teo might be able to help her.

ADVERTISEMENT

“So my doctor gave me a referral to him and it all happened incredibly quickly,” she adds.

courtney gibb cancer
Gibb in hospital following her surgery last week. Source: provided.

“Charlie Teo’s office called and said, ‘Look, from what we can see, it’s benign, but it is pushing on vital parts of your brain that could cause seizures, that could cause blackouts, and could cause death.’

“When those words are said to you, you want it out.”

The family set up a Go Fund Me account for Gibb’s treatment. Three days ago, she had brain surgery in Sydney. She’s already out of hospital and recovering at her parents’ house.

“They like you to be home after this kind of surgery,” she explains. “You’re less likely to get an infection.”

Listen: Tracy Bevan talks to Mia Freedman about cancer research and the important work that the McGrath Foundation offers. Post continues... 

Gibb says she’s feeling sore and tired, but hasn’t felt nauseous.

“I’m very positive that I’m going to be better and so is Charlie. He said, ‘Each day you’re going to be a little bit better and you’re going to be able to do a little bit more.’”

She has some advice for people who feel that doctors are brushing off their concerns.

“I would tell them to listen to your gut and just push for answers.”

Donate to Courtney's GoFundMe page here

Tags: brain-cancer , health , real-life
00:00 / ???