Warning after woman, 36, suffering from 'pins and needles' dies

The seemingly harmless tingling in her extremities led to a terminal diagnosis.

A woman, whose sister's seemingly harmless "pins and needles" turned out to be cancer, has shared her story to warn others of unusual symptoms.

When Lydia Carfrae-Brohaska from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, first began experiencing tingling in her extremities, she thought nothing of it. But the symptoms rapidly spread to her legs and eventually she struggled to use the left side of her body.

Tragically, in August 2018, doctors confirmed the worst: cancer – with Lydia given just 12 to 18 months to live.

She battled on for two years but on May 22, 2020, aged just 36, she passed away with her mum, Vicky, husband Stu and sister Carrie Carfrae by her side.

Lydia Carfrae-Brohaska with her sister after being diagnosed with cancer and prior to her diagnosis.
Lydia Carfrae-Brohaska was diagnosed with stage 4 Glioblastoma – an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. Source: Jam Press/Australscope

Her heartbroken sister has now opened up about the painful experience to warn others of unusual cancer symptoms and share a loving tribute to her "soulmate".

"I would rather have had 36 years with Lydia than a whole lifetime with any other person – even though the pain of losing her is so hard to bear," Carrie, a musician, told NeedToKnow.online. "She was, and will always be, my soulmate; my one love in the truest, purest sense of the word.

"She fought and showed incredible courage; never once missing an appointment, never once giving up hope, never once saying, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore – it’s too hard’. Lydia achieved so much in her last two years.

"She kept living, travelling, meeting friends, having fun, she continued to make memories – she is and always will be an inspiration to us all."

Woman undergoes vigorous treatment

Lydia, who was a qualified solicitor, was diagnosed with stage 4 Glioblastoma – an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer.

Over 20 months, she underwent numerous rounds of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy, all of which were carried out in the US as she was based in Texas at the time.

Lydia with her beloved dog and with a shaved head during treatement.
Lydia passed away peacefully with her family by her side on May 22, 2020. Source: Jam Press/Australscope

Lydia also had access to pioneering treatment which is currently not available on the UK's National Health Service (NHS), known as Optune treatment. The novel "tumour treatment" uses an electromagnetic field and is widely available in the US and Germany.

In 2019, after months of vigorous treatment, Lydia began showing improvements and decided to finally go on a belated honeymoon, a cruise along the Panama Canal, with her husband.

Sadly, the joy was not to last when in April of the following year, doctors discovered a new tumour in her brain. "Her doctor knew that there was no more time," Carrie said. "We were heartbroken and couldn't believe this was the beginning of the end."

Woman dies surrounded by family

Carrie and Stu made it their mission to get Lydia back home to the UK to live her final months surrounded by friends and family. Within 24 hours of learning of the new tumour, they had booked flights, packed and sorted their apartment. They then travelled from Houston to Heathrow in a plane's the first class cabin so their little dog, Pompey, could come with them.

"It was a huge relief when she arrived home and Lydia's doctors had warned she would start deteriorating rapidly, so there was only a small window of opportunity when she would be well enough to fly home," Carrie said.

Lydia and her husband, Stu on their honeymoon.
Lydia and her husband, Stu, went on a belated honeymoon before her death. Source: Jam Press/Australscope

"We set up a day bed in our conservatory so that she could see the garden and chat to friends through the windows. We played card games, watched TV, and talked about so many things. We were truly blessed to have this precious time together."

Family continue legacy with foundation

A small glimmer of light in the tragedy came from Lydia's passion for raising money for charity and for the NHS, which she continued doing until the very end.

Her family have since continued her legacy and set up the Lydia's Wish foundation – raising a total of £15,000 (A$26,417) for Brain Tumour Research UK. Carrie says her sister will be with her for the rest of her life and she hopes to make her proud.

"Lyd was truly the best sister I could have asked for, our love for each other was deep and unconditional. It is incredibly important to us all to raise both awareness and funding into research for brain tumours so that other families do not have to endure the suffering which we all have," she said.

"Lydia lived her life with grace, very good humour and love, right until the end. Her presence will guide my life as a force of good and I will make her proud of me, just like I was, and always will be, immeasurably proud of her."

Emmie Norton/Jam Press/Australscope

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