I Thought I Just Had a Hangover While Working at McDonald’s – The Truth Was Devastating


As a teenager, Danielle Freeman enjoyed a night out.

But her main focus was taking care of herself as she wanted to become a personal trainer.

Danielle Freeman was focused on her fitness, but started to struggle with her workouts

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Danielle Freeman was focused on her fitness, but started to struggle with her workoutsCredit: PA Real Life
She was working with her boyfriend Connor at a McDonald's when she became unwell

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She was working with her boyfriend Connor at a McDonald’s when she became unwellCredit: PA Real Life
Doctors found she'd been living with a benign brain tumor — which experts said she'd had for years

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Doctors found she’d been living with a benign brain tumor — which experts said she’d had for yearsCredit: PA Real Life

While she was working out, she felt mentally and physically exhausted with no explanation and said her workouts were starting to slip.

In 2018, her boss at the gym she worked at in Portree on the Isle of Man suggested she was depressed, but Danielle knew she wasn’t.

Fast forward a year and the 23-year-old worked at McDonald’s and thought she was just having a hangover.

The night before, she’d been out with friends and had a few drinks.

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When she showed up for her shift at the food chain the next day, she said she thought she had just had too much to drink.

Danielle said: “I was on the headset at the drive-thru and I suddenly made a screaming noise.

“I don’t remember anything about this, but my boyfriend and my roommate both worked at McDonald’s and came running up.

“It was my roommate who saw me first. He saw me screaming and thought I saw a fly because I hate insects. But then I slowly started to fall to the floor and a manager caught me.

“I now know it was a major seizure, one that caused loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions and lasted more than two minutes.”

Danielle then passed out again and when she awoke, a paramedic, her boyfriend Connor, 26, and her manager were standing around her.

After being taken to the hospital and having tests performed, it was discovered that Danielle was suffering from a benign brain tumor.

When Danielle received her MRI results in 2020, the previous fatigue all fell into place.

She received a letter saying she had a benign mass on her right temporal lobe.

“Because it was benign, I wasn’t as concerned as I could have been.

“But knowing there was something in my brain that shouldn’t be there was horrible,” she said.

At a follow-up appointment, she was told that the pea-shaped mass could have remained there for seven years.

A counselor explained to Danielle that her brain couldn’t handle a hangover and reassured her that it wasn’t the cause of a few drinks here and there.

Danielle then had to decide whether she wanted surgery immediately or whether she wanted to check the tumor.

Doctors told her she was unlikely to grow for several years and that Danielle could manage her symptoms with medication and a healthy lifestyle.

The attacks stopped, but a scan in late 2020 showed the tumor was growing.

It was then that she was diagnosed with a grade two brain tumor.

What is a brain tumor and what are the symptoms?

A brain tumor is a mass or lump in the brain that is caused when brain cells divide and grow uncontrollably.

The growths can be benign and noncancerous, growing slowly and if treated are unlikely to reappear.

However, cancerous brain tumors are more serious and some can start in the brain or spread there from cancer elsewhere in the body.

Brain tumors are also graded for severity, with grade one and two tumors considered low risk.

While grade three and four tumors are seen as high risk and likely to recur after treatment.

What are the signs?

According to the NHS, the symptoms of a brain tumor depend on the severity and which part of the brain is affected.

However, there are common signs that people can look out for if they are concerned.

These include severe, non-stop headaches, seizures, as well as nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness.

Other symptoms include vision or speech problems, paralysis, and even changes in a person’s behavior, such as having trouble remembering things.

These symptoms can come on suddenly or develop slowly over time.

The Brain Tumors Charity has more information about symptoms on their website.

She agreed to have it removed, but it wasn’t urgent at first.

But in January 2021, her vision became blurry as the tumor weighed on her brain.

Danielle had to go through a five-hour procedure to have it removed.

She said: “My energy levels are so much better now. I exercise a maximum of five days a week. The chemotherapy may make me tired, but I feel so much better.

“I can even have a drink now and then, but I just have to make sure I’m taking my seizure medication.”

Danielle’s treatment is nearing its end and she’s now teaming up with The Brain Tumor Charity to boost their current campaign.

The Better Safe Than Tumor campaign aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain tumors, including persistent and severe headaches, vision changes, seizures, balance problems or dizziness, memory problems, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, loss of taste and smell, speech difficulties, and numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Danielle said: “For me, more awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain tumors would have kept me from blaming myself so much.

“I had also known not to brush off the symptoms and instead push for answers and even suggested I be sent for an MRI scan the moment I started experiencing fatigue.

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“This campaign will really help people with symptoms to ask more questions and understand what could be happening to them.

“This, in turn, could lead to an extremely important early diagnosis that could save lives.”

She finally had the tumor removed after the doctors said she could just monitor it for changes

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She finally had the tumor removed after the doctors said she could just monitor it for changesCredit: PA Real Life

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