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‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ author Sophie Kinsella shares brain cancer diagnosis

Sophie Kinsella says doctors diagnosed her with a glioblastoma in 2022. She's receiving treatment for the aggressive cancer and is 'stable.'
Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella attends the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 14, 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Getty Images

Author Sophie Kinsella has been diagnosed with brain cancer, the "Confessions of a Shopaholic" writer revealed on social media.

She shared that in late 2022 doctors found she had a glioblastoma, which she described as "a form of aggressive brain cancer."

“I’ve wanted for a long time to share with you a health update and I’ve been waiting for the strength to do so,” the 54-year-old Brit wrote in a statement on X posted April 17, 2024. “I did not share this before because I wanted to make sure that my children were able to hear and process the news in privacy and adapt to our ‘new normal.’” 

Kinsella said she’s “stable” after undergoing “successful surgery and subsequent radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which is still ongoing,” at the University College Hospital in London. Like others with brain tumors, she has noticed some changes.

“I am feeling generally very well, though I get very tired and my memory is worse than it was before,” she wrote.

What is a glioblastoma?

According to MD Anderson, a glioblastoma is “the most aggressive” type of brain tumor and considered a stage 4 diagnosis. Glioblastomas develop in brain cells called astrocytes, which give it the brain nutrients and guard it from disease.

Glioblastoma makes up slightly more than half of all malignant brain tumors, according to the National Brain Tumor Society, and they are “one of the most complex, deadly and treatment resistant cancers.”

Glioblastomas often grow in the brain’s frontal lobe or temporal lobe, though they can be found in any location in the brain, MD Anderson says. A glioblastoma in the frontal lobe can cause problems with speech, voluntary movement, behavior and memory, MD Anderson notes.

When people have a glioblastoma in the temporal lobe, they might have trouble making new memories, difficulty understanding language and struggle with their sense of hearing, vision, taste and touch, MD Anderson says. 

What are the symptoms of glioblastoma?

According to past reporting, symptoms of glioblastoma include:

  • Constant headaches
  • Double vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Little appetite
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Struggling to think and learn
  • Seizures for the first time
  • Changes in speech
  • Struggling to remember
  • One-sided weakness
  • Troubles speaking, paying attention or with coordination
  • Feeling tired

What is the treatment for glioblastoma?

Treatment includes surgery to remove the tumor plus chemotherapy or radiation, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center. But it can be complicated. Removing a tumor and surrounding healthy tissue, what’s known as a margin, is difficult because doctors do not want to ruin a person’s ability to speak, understand and move, MD Anderson notes.

Patients with this type of tumor can also enroll in clinical trials, which examine new ways of treating the tumor including immunotherapies and targeted therapies.

What is the outcome for glioblastoma?

National Brain Tumor Society estimates that more than 10,000 Americans die from glioblastoma a year and mortality rates for this type of cancer have remained poor for decades. About 6.9% of patients live five years after diagnosis, with the average patient living for only 8 months, the organization says.

Numerous public figures have passed away from having a glioblastoma, including The Wanted’s Tom Parker, Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, baseball player Edward “Tug” McGraw and Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old who chose medial aid in dying after her diagnosis.

Kinsella expressed her gratitude for loved ones, her medical team and her readers and shared a message of understanding.

“To everyone who is suffering from cancer in any form I send love and best wishes, as well as to those who support them,” she wrote. “It can feel very lonely and scary to have a tough diagnosis, and the support and care of those around you means more than words can say.”