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Brain tumor makes 7-yr-old Enna Stephens can't stop laughing

Updated: 2011-08-05
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Happy days: Vanna and Doug Stephens with daughter Enna. They said her giggles helped them see life more positively 
 

Surgery: Enna had a tumour behind her eye. Doctors say there is an 80% chance it won't return 
 

Much better: Enna has much to smile about after her delicate brain surgery was a success 
 

Life has literally been a laugh a minute for Enna Stephens following surgery to remove a brain tumour – thanks to a bizarre side-effect of the operation.

The seven-year-old has been giggling uncontrollably for a month, and her chuckles have helped parents Vana and Dougie cope with her illness.

Mrs Stephens, 40, said: ‘Things happened so quickly that Dougie and I were numb.

'We’d visit Enna in hospital and try to put on a brave face but inside we were crushed.

'But once she started giggling we found ourselves doing the same. It was so infectious, and just a great way of releasing our emotions.’

Enna’s giggles are due to pseudobulbar affect, a neurological disorder caused by nerve damage.

The condition, which affects up to five per cent of brain surgery patients, leaves sufferers unable to control their emotions.
 
Mrs Stephens, a police administrator from Cleveland, said: ‘We were told by doctors that most patients who have a brain tumour removed feel depressed or angry afterwards.

'But when Enna came round she was giggling and it just carried on. She would giggle all the time – anything would set her off.

'She would giggle for 15 minutes at a time. She laughed the most in the first three weeks but she still giggles a lot.

'Once she starts she can’t stop. Her best joke is when her grandma holds a banana like a phone.’

Doctors think the giggling will gradually subside.

They diagnosed Enna’s tumour after an optician noticed there was swelling behind her left eye in June.

The youngster was operated on the following month at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and now faces 16 months of chemo and radiotherapy.

But surgeons are confident they have removed all the cancer and say there is an 80 per cent chance it will not come back.
 
Enna's giggles have now calmed down so she only laughs when she finds something funny.

She still faces 16 months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment and is on a range of medication.

However the keen ballet dancer is now well enough to put on her dancing shoes again.

Her father Dougie, 44, a team leader at Warburton's bakery, said:

'We know we all need to stay positive. Enna is very positive too. She is a very brave little kid.

'The doctors have been amazed and just how strong she has managed to remain, and we are so proud of her.

'Despite everything that has happened we have just had to keep hope that it is something that will make us all stronger.'

'You have to always think positively and try to make it as happy as experience as possible.

Luckily she seems to be doing that by herself.
 
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