A woman who believed she was suffering from an ear infection actually discovered her hearing problems were a sign of a brain tumour.
After visiting various GPs, Jane Lightfoot, 47, from Tongham, Surrey, took several courses of antibiotics, but the treatment didn't help ease her symptoms.
Having asked to see an ear specialist and being referred for tests, the results uncovered she was living with a vestibular schwannoma (Acoustic neuroma) - a non-cancerous tumour on the balance nerve and auditory nerve.
Following a one-off intensive session of radiotherapy, Lightfoot is now taking part in a charity walk to raise awareness and funds for Brain Tumour Research, the charity she says has "been a huge support" throughout her journey.
Even though the mum-of-one still suffers headaches, dizziness, fatigue, mood swings and shooting pains through her head and behind her right ear, she says she considers herself "lucky".
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"I suffered for many months with what was thought to be a severe ear infection," she explains.
"It wasn’t clearing up, despite me having many courses of antibiotics, and had knocked my depression to rock bottom, so I went back to the doctor and asked to see someone who specialises in ear problems.
"The doctor I saw was lovely and asked if I had ever had a balance check and an MRI scan, which I hadn’t.
“Within a couple of weeks both tests had been booked, carried out and a referral was made to see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist."
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Lightfoot's appointment took place a couple of months later and she recalls being told what was causing her issues: "I don’t remember all the conversation and think it took a while to sink in, but I was told my hearing wasn’t the best due to the fact I had a brain tumour."
Following her diagnosis, in April 2015, Lightfoot had scans and tests regularly to monitor the tumour's growth.
In 2019 it was revealed her tumour had grown, what doctors described as a "vast amount", and in April 2021 she had a one-off intensive session of radiotherapy.
"As I sat alone in the waiting area waiting to be called in, I suddenly had a meltdown as it dawned on me what was about to happen," she says of the emotional moment.
“Once in the treatment room, two lovely members of staff calmed me down and talked me through the whole process.
"I laid on the bed whilst they carried out all their checks and my head mould was bolted to the table.
“It was uncomfortable, not being able to move or talk, with only a thumbs up or down as to how I was feeling.
"The machines kicked into action and the tears rolled down my cheeks with thousands of images and thoughts flashing before my eyes."
Eighteen months have passed since her radiotherapy treatment and while she says it hasn't all been plain sailing, Lightfoot feels grateful.
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"I know I’ve been extremely lucky as I haven’t experienced half the side effects I could have," she says.
Lightfoot is now due to take part in the Brain Tumour Research charity’s Chichester Walk of Hope on September 30 to help raise vital funds for the charity.
Charlie Allsebrook, community development manager for Brain Tumour Research, says: "Jane’s story is a stark reminder of the indiscriminate nature of brain tumours, which can affect anyone at any time.
"They kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease since records began in 2002.
"We’re determined to change this but it’s only by working together we will be able to improve treatment options for patients and, ultimately, find a cure.
"We’re really grateful to Jane for her support."
Brain tumours: UK help and support
Brain Tumour Support | Helpline: 01454 422701
Cancer Research UK | Helpline: 0808 800 4040
The Brain Tumour Charity | Helpline: 0808 800 0004
Additional reporting SWNS.