Laura Nuttall was diagnosed with glioblastoma shortly after starting her first year of college
Credit: Go Fund Me

A 19-year-old college student in the U.K. learned that what she thought was freshers’ flu (a British name commonly given to an illnesses contracted by new students during the first few weeks at a university) is actually terminal brain cancer, her family says.

Laura Nuttall had just started her first semester at Kings College London in September when she began experiencing “persistent and annoying headaches,” according to a GoFundMe page set up for the teenager.

She chalked the discomfort up to a simple cold, but when she became “quite sick” during the semester, she was taken to a London hospital where doctors delivered devastating news.

“Our lives changed forever as Laura was diagnosed with 2 brain tumours. She had a further MRI scan later that morning and it became apparent that she in fact had at least 6 brain tumours,” Laura’s mother, Nicola Nuttall, wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Credit: Go Fund Me

“So 6 weeks after we had helped her get settled into her new university accommodation we had the heartbreaking task of packing up and bringing her home again.”

Laura was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a brain tumor that usually leads to death within 24 months after diagnosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The teen has undergone brain surgery as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Nicola wrote on the GoFundMe page. Her family is working to raise money to pay for Laura’s treatment, but they do not know how much longer she has left to live.

Credit: Go Fund Me

“As a family we couldn’t believe that our beautiful intelligent girl with so much life ahead of her, was basically facing a death sentence,” Nicola continued. “It’s just heart breaking.”

The family has shared Laura’s story with several news outlets, hoping to garner attention and provide treatment for the teen.

Still, even months after the diagnosis, the Nuttalls are struggling to come to terms with the illness.

“It’s the last thing any of us expected and we don’t know what’s going to happen next (we’re waiting for another scan) but what I do know is that she’s got more balls than anyone I’ve ever met and if it’s tumours vs Laura I know who my money is on,” Nicola wrote in a Facebook post in October.