Boy’s Etch-a-Sketch drawing helped doctors to diagnose his brain tumour

A seven-year-old boy has been diagnosed with a brain tumour after a self-portrait on an Etch-a-Sketch highlighted where his pain was.

Emre Erulkeroglu had been complaining of a sore head since 2015, when chronic headaches were waking him up in the night and causing him to vomit. Concerned mother Tiffani rushed her son straight to hospital, where doctors told her that the pain was just a severe migraine, and to take her son home to rest.

‘Within minutes he was lying in a drowsy state on the sofa but was screaming in pain every time he vomited,’ she told The Sun of that initial ordeal. ‘We took him to A&E where his headache disappeared due to the vomiting and we were told to go home as they thought it was just a migraine.’

But Emre’s symptoms didn’t ease up, so he continued to complain about the pain – and when he drew a self-portrait on his Etch-a-Sketch toy, with a dark scribble on his head where the ‘constant pain’ was, Tiffani knew she had to push for a more thorough diagnosis.

Images: The Brain Tumour Charity

By this point, she had started researching her son’s symptoms herself and worryingly, found that he was ticking all the boxes for a brain tumour. As a result, she pushed for an MRI scan, which revealed a cyst on Emre’s pineal gland – exactly where he had drawn the pain.

Initially, doctors still insisted that the cyst wasn’t the cause of his pain and the family was sent home again. With his health continuing to deteriorate and the thought of a brain tumour already taken hold in Tiffani’s mind, she got in touch with brain tumour charity HeadSmart campaign, who encouraged her to push on with her search for an accurate diagnosis.

‘Whilst we were waiting [for a second MRI] Emre was becoming difficult to handle,’ says Tiffani. ‘He would have rages over nothing that lasted for hours. I had no choice but to ring the MRI department every day for weeks until I managed to get in a cancellation.’

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Finally, two years after his initial complaint, Emre was diagnosed with an inoperable cystic tumour – he’s since undergone a lumbar puncture, an endoscopic third ventriculostomy and is currently being monitored by health care professionals.

A relieved Tiffani says: ‘It took three months of me pleading to get a diagnosis but he’s here, stable and getting on with life.’