A UK father of four was convinced his faithful wife of three years was cheating on him. But it turns out his paranoia was a symptom of an aggressive brain tumor.
Andy Hampton, 54, not only grew distant from his wife, 37-year-old Gemma, but also displayed an uncharacteristic lack of interest in his family.
Signs and symptoms
"Shortly after I gave birth to our son Henley, I noticed significant changes in Andy's personality," Gemma told SWNS of the days following their son's birth in May 2022. "I would ask Andy to change Henley's diaper, and he replied that he had a headache and that I should do it myself."
Initially, Gemma believed her husband was struggling to adapt to the new dynamics of their growing family, but his behavior continued to deteriorate. Gemma felt like he wasn't listening to her anymore.
"Because I kept pointing out things he was doing wrong, his paranoia led him to believe things that weren't true," she explained. "He kept saying he knew it was all in his head, but he couldn't stop the thoughts. He was convinced I was cheating on him."
By May 2023, Andy was completely confused, according to Gemma.
The 'last straw'
The "last straw" was when he couldn't figure out how to put the duvet cover back on the bed, which raised a red flag for Gemma. She took him to the doctor, who diagnosed Andy with glioblastoma multiforme, a cancerous and aggressive brain tumor, which is the most common and aggressive brain cancer according to the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA).
The signs and symptoms of the disease are many and varied, initially presenting as non-specific and may include headaches, neurological deficits, memory loss, and personality changes. Glioblastomas can indeed cause a change in behavior, according to the ABTA, prompting psychiatric symptoms such as delusions and confusion, which could explain Andy's actions and behavior over the past year.
On May 31, Andy underwent surgery to remove cancerous tissue and began six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
"Immediately after the surgery, Andy's mood changed, and his personality resembled the old Andy," Gemma told SWNS. "We felt better knowing there was 'someone' to blame for Andy's behavior and that it wasn't our marriage that fell apart."
Now, the couple is focused on fighting the cancer and making Andy feel better. While undergoing a second round of chemotherapy, Andy signed up for sponsored walks to raise money for the UK charity Brain Cancer Research, which aims to find a cure for brain tumors. Gemma said Andy has always been an "active person," but the treatments are leaving him very tired - and walking could become a challenge for him.
Mel Tiley, Brain Tumor Research UK's community development director, said Andy's story was a "poignant reminder" of the "undiagnosed nature of brain tumors," as the disease can affect anyone at any time.
"The disease kills more men under the age of 70 than prostate cancer, yet only 1% of national cancer research spending has been allocated to this devastating disease since records began in 2002," Tilley told SWNS. "We are determined to change that, but only by working together can we improve treatment options for patients and eventually find a cure."