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When neuroscientist Barbara Lipska was diagnosed with brain cancer, she thought she knew about the physical toll. But she was unprepared for its effect on her behaviour

Dr Barbara Lipska was working at her computer one morning in January 2015 when her right hand suddenly disappeared. Having spent her 40-year career studying the human brain, she immediately knew just how bad this was. The neuroscientist was aware that the most likely explanation was a tumour in the area of her brain governing vision. Having twice overcome cancer – in the breast in 2009 and then melanoma three years later – the spread of the disease was already a frightening possibility.

So when Lipska’s doctor called the following morning to report the results of an emergency MRI scan – three tumours in the brain, one of them bleeding, suggesting metastatic melanoma – she was undoubtedly devastated, but not completely surprised.

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