Written by Editorial Team, DonateToday
Published: Wednesday, 14th February 2018

'Facebook saved my little boy's life' – mum recognises serious illness in her son after seeing The Brain Tumour Charity's post on social media

'Facebook saved my little boy's life' – mum recognises serious illness in her son after seeing The Brain Tumour Charity's post on social media

Rosie Bell saw charity’s HeadSmart symptoms card on Facebook and realised her three-year old son was showing signs of having a brain tumour – she was right.


Mum-of-three Rosie has spoken out to warn others of the dangers their children could be in. Here, she recalls the symptoms her son Daniel was displaying, before she realised what they meant. 

‘One evening, with the kids tucked up in bed, I sat down at my computer and caught up with my friends’ news on Facebook,’ Rosie remembers. ‘I was following a story about a friend’s son who had a brain tumour and read a HeadSmart card she’d posted from The Brain Tumour Charity with warning signs for children’s tumours.

‘Up until the Easter holidays in 2014, Daniel was a typical mischievous three-year-old boy,’ she goes on, ‘Always happy and a bundle of energy. When he became grumpy and started throwing tantrums, I put it down to him being a toddler.

‘Then Daniel became lethargic – shortly after getting up, he’d be lying on the settee and started having afternoon naps again. I thought he was growing or had picked up a virus like kids do.

‘Looking back, he was always falling over or bumping into things. I joked that he’d inherited my clumsiness. Again, I didn’t dream there was anything sinister.’

"They were exactly the symptoms I'd seen on my friend's Facebook post."

Rosie Bell

Alarm Bells

Unfortunately, there was something much more sinister at work, as Rosie was about to realise.

‘During the May half-term in 2014, we went on holiday to Northumberland,’ she says. ‘At seven months pregnant, I was really looking forward to a family break but Daniel wasn’t his usual livewire self – one morning, we had to push him around asleep in his buggy. 

‘On the last day, he got sick about an hour after waking up. Over the next few weeks, he was sick a few more times and, one morning, he woke up with a headache. 

‘Alarm bells started ringing – they were exactly the symptoms I’d seen on my friend’s Facebook post.’

Brain Tumour

Despite Daniel’s GP telling Rosie that the youngster may just have hay fever due to the fact he’d been rubbing his eyes a lot, he continued to be sick until she eventually took him to another doctor who referred the case to a paediatrician.

‘Next morning, Daniel could hardly move and was vomiting,’ Rosie says. ‘We took him to the children’s A&E at Ormskirk Hospital. Within hours, they’d arranged a CAT scan – I felt sick with foreboding. 

‘We were told straight away he had a ‘mass’ which was causing fluid to build up in his brain,’ she continues. ‘An ambulance took us to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool. I clutched Daniel’s hand for the 15-minute journey.

‘That afternoon, he had a three-hour operation to insert a drain to relieve the pressure on his brain and an MRI scan. Our consultant showed us the scan confirming my worst fears: Daniel had a brain tumour and it was the size of an adult fist.’


Despite this terrifying diagnosis, the surgeon in charge of Daniel’s case had a few words of comfort: he was confident that Daniel’s tumour was non-cancerous and that he’d be able to remove it. 

The next day, Daniel underwent an eight-hour operation which Rosie describes as the longest day of her life.

‘We veered between fear he wouldn’t make it through surgery and that, if he did, the Daniel who woke up wouldn’t be the boy we knew,’ she admits.

‘At last we got the call to say he was in recovery,’ Rosie recalls. ‘As we walked into the room, he was yelling at the top of his voice “Get off me!”

Relief flooded through me – “that’s my cheeky, bossy boy!” I thought.’

Happily, Daniel's operation was a complete success

"I'm so grateful to The Brain Tumour Charity and brilliant NHS staff – that tiny card saved my little boy's life."

Rosie Bell

Tears of Joy

Daniel’s operation had been a success. He spent four days in intensive care and made it home just 10 days after his diagnosis.

Every few months, the youngster was required to have scans to check on his recovery until his parents were called into a room full of people at the Alder Hey Hospital. 

‘My heart started thumping, as the last time that happened, we were told the devastating news that Daniel had a tumour,’ Rosie admits. ‘But this time, the news was the best we could ever have hoped for – doctors told us that Daniel had the all-clear and didn’t need any more scans.

‘I was blinking back tears of joy.’


Rosie can now look forward to a life with all three of her children, happy and healthy. She is under no illusions, however, of just how different things could have been, had she not seen The Brain Tumour Charity’s post on Facebook. 

‘If I had not seen the HeadSmart card on Facebook, I would not have recognised Daniel’s symptoms,’ she admits. ‘Now I hope sharing my story about HeadSmart will help raise money for research to reduce adults’ diagnosis times too. 

Rosie, Daniel's mum, says she is grateful to The Brain Tumour Charity and the NHS for saving her son's life

‘I’m so grateful to The Brain Tumour Charity and brilliant NHS staff – that tiny card saved my little boy’s life. We feel so blessed he’s healthy and happy.’

Spot the Symptoms

  • Persistent/recurrent headache;
  • Persistent/recurrent vomiting;
  • Balance/co-ordination/walking problems;
  • Abnormal eye movements;
  • Blurred or double vision;
  • Behaviour change;
  • Fits or seizures;
  • Abnormal head position such as wry neck, head tilt or stiff neck;
  • Increasing head circumference (crossing centiles);
  • Delayed or arrested puberty;
  • Symptoms vary across age groups. For more information visit Headsmart.org.uk