A woman who suffered from crippling migraines for nine years has finally been diagnosed with a brain tumour after doctors repeatedly dismissed her symptoms as anxiety.
Anna Hill, 35, from Bristol, began getting controllable headaches when she was just 12 years old.
But she developed near-constant migraines, nausea and exhaustion when she was 26. Medics continuously told her she was just feeling anxious.
When Ms Hill was eventually forced to give up her job as a local government officer earlier this year, she paid for a private brain scan, which finally revealed her 1.8cm-deep tumour.
The growth is so large only six surgeons in the world can operate on it, she claims on her fundraising page.
Due to the operation not being available on the NHS, Ms Hill has to raise £35,000 to have the procedure in Germany.
Ms Hill’s headaches were ‘manageable’ as a child, however, she noticed medication did nothing to ease her discomfort.
The pain gradually became more severe during her teenage and university years, despite her trying countless treatments to try and ease the agony.
Ms Hill graduated from Cardiff University in 2006 with a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Shortly afterwards, additional symptoms suddenly started to develop.
‘I moved to Bristol and thought I was ready for my first job, nothing could stand in my way,’ Ms Hill said.
On her 26th birthday in 2010, Ms Hill developed constant nausea and migraines.
‘I felt like I was going to throw up every day, which honestly is quite grim,’ she said.
Ms Hill was referred to multiple specialists after she started to develop vertigo, blurred vision, tinnitus and extreme fatigue in 2015.
‘I couldn’t see very well and constantly lost balance – I felt like I was living on a boat,’ she said.
After going back to her GP in 2017, her symptoms were once again put down to anxiety.
‘I ended up feeling like a nuisance as I was passed around all of these specialists,’ Ms Hill said.
‘It was a hard process. I always hoped they would get to the bottom of it as I had all the tests which you could ever dream of in the doctor’s world.
‘I kept saying this wasn’t normal. Doctors have been listening but they have no clue what to do.
‘No one could tell me what was making me feel so sick and eventually my symptoms were put down to anxiety.’
As well as being forced to give up work, Ms Hill claims every aspect of her life has been affected by her tumour.
‘Over the past six months, I’ve missed so many important life events of loved ones such as my sister and best friend’s weddings and countless others,’ she said.
‘I have absolutely no quality of life at all.’
After giving up her job in January this year, Ms Hill used her private healthcare to have a precautionary brain and MRI scan.
Results came back showing a deep tumour in the middle of her brain on the gland that regulates sleep.
‘When someone says you have a brain tumour, you automatically think I am going to die,’ Ms Hill said.
‘However, luckily, doctors said that it was benign, and I sighed with relief.
‘It was bittersweet finally getting a diagnosis though and I now realised that how complicated, costly and risky it is to get treated.’
Despite being benign, Ms Hill wants treatment to ease the symptoms she has battled with for most of her life.
But the private medics who performed the scan told her the surgery is not routinely available on the NHS, she claims.
Ms Hill therefore sent her scans to a neurosurgeon in Germany who said the tumour was most likely the cause of her headaches.
This claim has been backed by two other specialists in Australia and the US.
To pay for the surgery, which is booked to take place on November 1, Ms Hill has launched a fundraising page.
‘It could transform my life and years of suffering could finally come to an end and my life could be back on track,’ she said.
‘For the first time in years, I am starting to feel hopeful and excited and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.’