I beat brain cancer and was told to ‘pop the Champagne’ to celebrate

  • Dad diagnosed with primary CNS lymphoma after experiencing several seizures
  • He liquidated his business after struggling with memory loss and even walking 

A father given the cancer all-clear was heartbreakingly told his tumour had returned just days later.

Darren Gooch, 45, who lives in Sutton, south London, began suffering from seizures, behaviour changes and memory loss in the summer of 2023.

Tests revealed he had a rare type of lymphoma. However, he was declared free of the disease in January after undergoing months of chemotherapy. 

The plumbing and heating engineer, who ran his own business, was even told by his doctors to celebrate and open a bottle of champagne.

But, just over a week later, he suffered seizures and was told he had a new tumour on his brain — meaning the cancer had returned.

Mr Gooch, who has been forced to dissolve his business due to his diagnosis, is now trying to do something he enjoys and laugh every day in the hopes of ridding himself of the disease again.

Darren Gooch, 45, who lives in Sutton, London , with his wife, Kelly, 40, an assistant manager, and their three children Faith, 18, Daley, 14, and Teddy, two, (pictured) was diagnosed with primary CNS lymphoma after experiencing several seizures
After four rounds of chemotherapy Mr Gooch was told he was cancer free, but just days later doctors found a lesion on his brain

On July 20, Mr Gooch had two seizures while asleep in bed. He was rushed to St Helier Hospital where he then stayed for three weeks as doctors conducted tests.

Scan results showed swelling in his brain, which medics believed to be a cluster of tumours, while blood tests, an endoscopy and lumbar puncture all came back clear.

He was discharged and had a biopsy scheduled for August 29.

However, when he arrived home from hospital, his condition deteriorated. He suffered from behavioural changes, memory loss and night sweats.

Mr Gooch said: ‘I kept forgetting where I put things, I found working harder, I was sort of getting the shakes and feeling nervous… just things like that that I’d never normally do.

What is primary CNS lymphoma?

This type of cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of white blood cells.

The lymph system is composed of the tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells, and its main function is to fight infections.

Lymphoma can form in the lymph nodes around the body but it can also form in the central nervous system (CNS) which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. 

A CNS lymphoma can grow as a mass inside the brain, the spinal cord, or press on these from nearby.  

Symptoms can include: 

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cognitive difficulties, like slowing of thoughts
  • Motion problems or weakness and numbness in one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Vision problems, like blurred vision or blind spots
  • Balance issues
  • Personality changes, like a change in behaviour
  • Headaches
  • Seizures (fits)

Source: The Brain Tumour Charity 

‘I’d wake up in the morning and it was like I got someone to chuck a bucket of water over the bed.

‘I got absolutely soaked and I had to have a shower and change all the quilts and everything.

‘It made me a really, really, really horrible, nasty person – I’ve never been like that in my life.’

Just a few weeks later Mr Gooch suffered another five seizures and was put into a medically induced coma, which he woke from the next day.

He felt unfit to work and decided to liquidate his business.

Mr Gooch said: ‘It got to the point where I couldn’t even walk or think, so there was no point in me keeping the business running.

‘I couldn’t provide for the family like what I always did so that was quite devastating for the family as well, because they relied on me – I get really emotional about that and cry every day.’

Mr Gooch received his biopsy results on September 5, which revealed that he had primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma.

The cancer, which around 160 people in the UK are diagnosed with every year, typically starts in the brain, spinal cord or eyes. 

It can trigger personality changes, such as being more irritable, memory problems and seizures, as well as weakness in the arms and legs.

He said: ‘I went from walking around and thinking everything is fine, to a massive shock where everything changes – your whole perception on life just changes.

‘My family were mortified – I think they thought “why us?”.

‘When you say the C-word, everyone just automatically thinks it’s the worst thing in the world but they were just so, so upset.’

After four months of gruelling chemotherapy, Mr Gooch was told he was cancer free.

‘I was like, “OK, well that’s amazing” – at the time I couldn’t believe it,’ he said.

‘They (the doctors) said to go home and celebrate and open up a bottle of champagne, but don’t drink it to excess.’

But the celebrations didn’t last long.

Just days later, while in hospital beginning treatment for a stem cell transplant, Mr Gooch had another two seizures and an MRI confirmed his cancer had returned.

Mr Gooch liquidated his business after he experienced severe behavioural changes, memory loss and night sweats

Mr Gooch is still trying to process the news but believes having a ‘laugh about something’ or doing ‘something enjoyable’ is what made him ‘beat cancer the first time’, so is determined to ‘do it again’. 

He said: ‘I still kind of haven’t processed it… so it’s really worrying.

‘I never believed I was cancer free, I was always sceptical, but my family were so happy for me and thought we could get our life back together.

‘We are very lucky to have such a supportive family, they are helping us get through this day by day.’

Mr Gooch has had his mortgage frozen until April and his wife Kelly, 40, works part-time as an assistant manager at a holiday company and looks after the couple’s children, Faith (18), Daley (14) and Teddy (2).

His sister has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise awareness of primary CNS lymphoma and to help him and his wife Kelly (pictured right) afford their mortgage

His sister has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise awareness of primary CNS lymphoma and to help the family afford their mortgage.

Mr Gooch said: ‘My wife is an assistant manager for a holiday company and can only work part time because she’s looking after the little one as well as running the family home – that’s without taking care of me and our eldest two children.

‘With my job, you have to be on the ball all the time, and now I might never be on the ball again.

‘I don’t know what the future holds because I’ve still got to have some tests… I’ve got to the point where I have to just do a day at a time and still just try to do something enjoyable and laugh about something.

‘That’s basically what’s got me through because I feel like I beat cancer the first time by doing things like that, so I can do it again.’


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