A woman who mistakenly believed her eyes were bloodshot due to conjunctivitis actually had a potentially deadly brain tumour.
Kirsty Drury, 45, from Tring, Hertfordshire thought that her sore right eye was caused by fatigue from working long hours.
Believing she had conjunctivitis, the mum-of-four visited her GP in November 2019 and was told that she had a potentially fatal brain tumour.
Her doctor found that the 'pink eye' she'd been experiencing was a symptom of a mass on her brain that was growing into her skull and affecting her muscles.
Drury, a manager at Transport for London, said: "When I first got told I had a brain tumour I thought it meant I was going to die.
"When you walk into the doctor’s surgery with suspected conjunctivitis and walk out with a brain tumour, you can’t be blamed for thinking the worst.”
Read more: Brain tumour signs and symptoms
Following a number of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Drury eventually underwent a 16-hour operation on 26 November 2020 to remove the tumour.
“I had expected to have brain surgery towards the start of 2020 but that slipped into March and then COVID-19 meant that only emergency operations were going ahead," she explains
“How I didn’t go mad in that time I have no idea. Although I was coping pretty well and running was helping, my mental health wasn’t great because I was convinced that I was going to have a bad outcome, that I’d find out my tumour was growing faster than expected or that it was cancer.
"It was the first thing I thought of in the morning, the last thing I thought about at night and sometimes it woke me up too – I couldn’t get any inner peace.”
Watch: Teacher returns to lessons one day after having brain tumour removed
While not all of the mass could be taken away during the surgery, due to the fact that it would put her facial muscles at risk, surgeons did establish that the tumour was non-cancerous, which means she is now able to live a healthy life.
Following her operation, Drury has since returned to full-time work and is physically fit, regularly running 25 km a week, though she suffers from pressure headaches and struggles with memory recall.
Now, Drury wants to support Brain Tumour Research in raising awareness of brain tumours and help others to recognise the symptoms and learn more about treatment options.
"I feel passionate about the need to raise awareness and funds for research into brain tumours,” she says.
“I also want others to know that there are lots of people living with a brain tumour.
"For some reason, those stories aren’t talked about but I think they should be because at the beginning of my journey, I would have given anything to have more hope.
"I want to put that alternative story out there; it is possible to get your life back after brain surgery.”
Brain Tumour Research funds research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the government and larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and to find a cure.
The charity is calling for a national annual government spend of £35m to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia.
Additional reporting SWNS.