A young woman was reportedly almost left paralyzed after bungling doctors repeatedly misdiagnosed her brain tumor as stress.
Chelsea Yeomans, 23, said she started suffering crippling headaches and dizzy spells when she was 13, and it continued as she studied for her exams.
Doctors initially told her the pain was caused by stress and her hormones and sent her away with paracetamol.
But the pain continued and Yeomans became convinced she was suffering from something more serious, so she searched Google for her symptoms, and found results that suggested she may have a brain tumor.
She told medics her concerns, but again her fears were dismissed until one specialist carried out a CT scan which revealed a cancerous growth pressing down on her spinal cord.
Yeomans claims she was told she was just two weeks away from the tumor causing irreparable damage which would have left her paralyzed from the waist down.
WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO AHEAD
Doctors reportedly discovered she had a pilocytic astrocytoma tumor the size of an orange growing on the left side of her brain.
Yeomans underwent an operation to remove 90 percent of the tumor in 2014, but lost part of her memory and still suffers headaches today.
The operation also meant she was unable to continue her job as a hairdresser because she had forgotten her skills.
She has now retrained and is an administrator for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
“I had 5.5 years' of headaches which turned out to be a brain tumor and was removed when I was 19," Yeomans, of Dudley, West Midlands, said. “Since then I have been having regular MRI scans to see whether it grows back."
“I was two weeks away from being paralyzed from the pressure on my spinal cord. It was lucky they got to it when they did," she said. “The headaches started around my GCSEs and because of my symptoms they put it down to stress."
“They said it was just hormones and I was being overly-dramatic, and it would go away if I took paracetamol," Yeomans claimed. “No one other than my mom believed me that it was more serious. It was a very hard time."
“In the back of my mind I sort of knew it wasn’t just headaches and I wasn’t being overly-dramatic," she said. “I Googled my symptoms and it said I had a brain tumor and it could be cancerous. I was worried it was because I kept my phone under my pillow but the surgeon later confirmed it was nothing to do with that."
“I was frustrating that it took so long to be diagnosed," she said. “My GP apologized for not pushing it earlier. The reception at the GP surgery wouldn’t take me seriously — one receptionist told me they were fully booked but they weren’t."
“The headaches were really horrible," she said. "I can’t explain them, they were that terrible. I still went to work — I just self-medicated myself with diazepam."
“I wasn’t prescribed - my mom takes it for her back pain," Yeomans said. “I lost a lot of memory during the operation. I’m hoping it comes back with time - but it has been four years and it hasn’t come back."
“I still get some headaches because it is still there. I’m having to wear glasses to stop the headaches. I’m still worrying because I have had a brain tumoor - will it come back?" she said. “They don’t know whether it will become malignant.”
Yeomans was initially seen by her GP when she was a teenager before finally being referred to Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley when she was 19 years old.
She said she saw six specialists in one day until the last one told her she needed a CT scan after touching her neck, which caused her to scream in agony.
The scan revealed a brain tumor in the back of her head on the left hand side.
Within two days, surgeons at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham operated to remove 90 percent of the tumor.
They had to leave ten percent as it lay dangerously close to her cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for balance and coordination of muscles and the body.
After the operation, Yeomans initially had MRI scans every six months to monitor her condition, which has now moved to one every two years.
“It is hard for us both to deal with," Michael Billingham, Yeomans' boyfriend, said. “It could have been caught earlier but you can’t fault the NHS after they found it out. It took two days for the surgery. You don’t think about it - you just do everything to make sure that person’s happy.”