A woman has revealed she was misdiagnosed as being bipolar before doctors found a brain tumour was triggering her psychosis.
Laura Skerritt was prescribed antidepressants when she first visited doctors in 2017, who said her hallucinations were caused by a mental illness.
But the potent drugs had no effect on the 22-year-old, whose condition continued to deteriorate through the summer of 2018.
Ms Skerritt said it was ‘frustrating’ to be told she was mentally ill because she knew deep down there must have been another reason.
By November that year the swimming instructor, from Templecombe, Somerset, was having severe migraines and sickness that left her struggling to walk.
She was finally referred for a brain scan at Yeovil District Hospital, which revealed a tumour the size of a tennis ball was causing her symptoms.
Laura Skerritt, 22, was misdiagnosed as bi-polar before medics discovered a brain tumour was triggering psychosis
After two years, the swimming instructor was finally referred for a brain scan at Yeovil District Hospital, which revealed she had a tumour the size of a tennis ball (pictured with boyfriend Harry)
She needed emergency surgery to remove the benign tumour, known as a central neurocytoma, before it caused a fatal stroke or seizure
Ms Skerritt needed emergency surgery to remove the benign tumour, known as a central neurocytoma, before it caused a fatal stroke or seizure.
Ms Skerritt said: ‘It took over two years to get a brain tumour diagnosis so I’m keen to share my story to help raise awareness.
‘It was frustrating to be told by doctors my symptoms were caused by mental illness. I sensed my health problems weren’t being caused by mental illness.
‘I’m quite an emotional person and flip between happy and sad moods, but this is just part of my quirky personality.’
In December 2018, Ms Skerritt underwent a gruelling 13-hour operation to remove the tumour at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
Medics removed 80 per cent of the neurocytoma, but parts of it were inoperable. She needs another operation.
Ms Skerritt added: ‘Mum and my boyfriend Harry were with me as I was wheeled into the operating room.
‘I don’t remember anything from surgery and recovery was tough.
Ms Skerritt was prescribed antidepressants when she first visited doctors in 2017 and told her hallucinations were caused by anxiety and depression
She said it was ‘frustrating’ to be told she was mentally ill because she knew deep down there must have been another reason
The keen horse rider began having severe migraines and sickness that left her struggling to walk before her diagnosis
WHAT IS A CENTRAL NEUROCYTOMA?
Neurocytomas are rare brain tumors that mostly affect young adults.
They account for roughly 0.5 per cent of all brain tumours, figures suggest.
They block spinal fluid from getting into the brain, resulting in pressure building in the organ.
This can lead to headaches, blurred vision and seizures. Some patients have reported depression and hallucination.
Treatment for a central neurocytoma typically involves surgical removal followed by radiotherapy.
There’s approximately a one in five chance of the tumour coming back.
‘I lost two stone, had to re-learn how to talk and was in constant agony because my muscles had wasted away.
‘I recently suffered a major seizure and now I need a second operation followed by eight weeks of intensive radiotherapy.
‘It’s going to be really hard going back into hospital but I’m hoping I make it through the treatment.’
Central neurocytomas are extremely rare, benign tumours that form from brain tissue and press against the organ, causing a slew of nasty side effects.
They most commonly trigger migraines and seizures, but some patients have reported depression and hallucinations.
Ms Skerritt added: ‘Up until my brain tumour diagnosis, I thought I was invincible.
‘I never worried about my health, and my own mortality was never something that crossed my mind.
‘My diagnosis changed my outlook on life. I’m not sure whether or not I want kids, for fear of them inheriting the disease or seeing me suffer with symptoms.
‘My plans of moving out were put on hold. I had to give up my driving licence and, living in the middle of the Somerset countryside, with that I lost my independence.’
Ms Skerritt is working with the charity Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness of the conditions that can go unnoticed for years, sometimes until it’s too late.
Mel Tiley, community fundraising manager at Brain Tumour Research in the South West, said: ‘We are very grateful to Laura for opening up about her brain tumour diagnosis.
‘We hope that those touched by her story will donate to Brain Tumour Research. Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age.
‘What’s more, less than 20 per cent of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50 per cent across all cancers.’
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