A woman who felt so low she could barely shower was given antidepressants. She had a seizure, and a scan revealed an orange-sized tumor had caused her personality to change.
- A woman started to snap at loved ones, had "zero energy," and didn't want to socialize anymore.
- Doctors gave Michelle Francis, 47, antidepressants for her symptoms.
A woman who was treated for depression after she started struggling with tiredness and a low mood discovered she had a brain tumor the size of an orange after she had a scan following a seizure.
Michelle Francis, 47, had a meningioma, which is a benign tumor that starts in the membranes of the brain or spinal cord.
Around 371 people in the US are diagnosed with meningiomas each year, and around 2,692 people have the condition, according to the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research.
Antibiotics for a presumed sinus infection didn't work
Francis, who lives in the UK, first went to her family doctor in June 2020 feeling tired and dizzy. The doctor gave her antibiotics for what was thought to be a sinus infection, which didn't work, she told The Sun.
A few months later, Francis developed new symptoms including: a ringing in her ears, blurry vision — despite normal eye tests — and her foot and hand going numb.
She went back to the doctor as the ringing became so bad that she couldn't sleep. At the time she had "zero energy," and was "very low," spending most of her time in bed, so the doctor prescribed her antidepressants.
"Things were so bad I could hardly be bothered to cook or take a shower," she said.
Francis, who described herself as"lively" and "cheerful" before her illness, said that she was so inactive during this period that she gained 35 pounds and temporarily developed diabetes from being overweight.
Francis' personality changed
Francis also no longer socialized, and began snapping at her boyfriend and mom, which she said was out of character.
"Afterwards I'd feel terrible for being nasty to them, which made me even more depressed and sent me retreating back to bed again," she said.
Francis said she was a conscientious person but started falling behind at work, and was abrupt with her colleagues. By October 2021, she was no longer able to work.
"It felt like there was a dark cloud constantly hanging over me," she said.
Francis had a six-hour brain surgery to remove the tumor
In November 2021, Francis had a seizure at home, and a scan revealed a left-sided brain tumor was compressing her optic nerve, which helps with vision.
In January, Francis had a 6-hour brain surgery to remove the tumor.
Regular monitoring since suggests that her tumor is inactive, with no signs of regrowth, but she currently isn't allowed to drive and takes antiepileptic medications.
Francis is raising awareness of brain tumors and their symptoms
Francis is working with the U.K.-based charity Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness of brain tumors and their symptoms.
Symptoms of meningiomas vary according to the tumor's location, but include: changes in vision, loss of hearing or smell, confusion, seizures, and headaches that are worse in the morning.
"I have been to hell and back. But I know that I am one of the lucky ones. My surgery was successful, my tumor was non-cancerous, and I have survived," Francis said.
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