A husband who developed the same "one-in-a-million" brain tumour diagnosis as his wife incredibly sent selfies of as he was being operated on.

Jim Murphy, 54, went under the knife for five hours at Hull Royal Infirmary during lockdown - a procedure he had to stay awake for.

Mr Murphy was told he had the same aggressive brain tumour as his wife Gill, 54, meaning surgery on the Asda buying manager was a must.

However, he stunned friends and family when their WhatsApp inboxes started to receive selfies of him in theatre.

"At first people couldn't believe it but were chuffed to think they were involved in some way, messaging me back to say 'OMG are you being operated on now,' he said.

"In a bizarre way, I really enjoyed the surgery.

"It was like a great meeting at work where I was one of the key decision makers helping to guide the team on how far they could go..

"I listened to music to help drown out the noise of the surgical instruments and even sent selfies of me in theatre to my friends and family via WhatsApp."

He said he was was given the option of an awake craniotomy where he would be brought round for part of the operation so surgeons could monitor his motor skills and he now hopes to inspire others to opt for the procedure.

Both he and the surgery team had to be dressed in full PPE due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Murphy sent selfies as he stayed awake for five hours during his surgery
Mr Murphy sent selfies as he stayed awake for five hours during his surgery

He says he was amazed to be awake to witness the whole surgical team giving him a round of applause at the end.

"It was a wonderful moment," he said.

Mr Murphy, from Cawood near York, said that he never imagined his symptoms meant he had a brain tumour despite his wife, Gill, 47, being diagnosed with one 18 years earlier and having three operations herself.

He said that Mrs Murphy's tumour recently became aggressive.

It is a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) which is the same type as her husband's - and the most virulent form of brain tumour.

The symptoms of a brain tumour vary depending on the exact part of the brain affected. Common symptoms include:

Sometimes you may not have any symptoms to begin with or they may only develop very slowly over time.

When to see your GP

See your GP if you have the above symptoms, particularly if you have a severe and persistent headache. You may not have a brain tumour but these types of symptoms should be checked out.

If your GP cannot identify a more likely cause of your symptoms, they may refer you to a neurologist (a brain and nervous system specialist) for further assessment and tests, such as a brain scan.

Who's affected

Brain tumours can affect people of any age, including children, although they tend to be more common in older adults.

More than 9,000 people are diagnosed with primary brain tumours in the UK each year, of which about half are cancerous. Many others are diagnosed with secondary brain tumours.

"What are the chances of that? You just couldn't make it up could you?" Mr Murphy said.

"I have been so inspired by her journey and the fact that she is still here - after being told initially she had just a few years - gives me great hope that I can beat it too."

Reflecting on his decision to be awake for part of the surgery, he said: "Being brave for just a few hours of your life can have a massive effect on the rest of your life.

"I was told that because of the location of the tumour, the surgical team's expectation pre-op was they would only be able to extract 85 to 90 per cent of the tumour.

"I firmly believe that because I took control of my own treatment plan and helped to guide the surgeon and his team away from the critical motor strip by staying awake, they were able to remove so much more."

Since Mrs Murphy's diagnosis, the couple, who have two teenage children, have raised nearly £90,000 for the national charity Brain Tumour
Research through the Circle of Hope group they set up.

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Brain Tumour Research spokesman Hugh Adams said: "It is absolutely appalling to think that they are now both fighting GBM, the most aggressive of all brain tumour types. It's a one in a million chance that a couple would both have this diagnosis.

"As Jim and Gill know from their own experiences, improvements in surgical techniques and treatment options only come about because of research and it is vital that we continue to invest money if we are to improve outcomes and, eventually find a cure."

The couple are urging people to support the charity by taking part in Wear A Hat Day with Flowers on June 19.