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Benign Tumours: My Journey

by Barbara Payne(more info)

listed in cancer, originally published in issue 40 - May 1999

I was lost literally. I had a suspicion that gradual physical changes had caused this lack of identity, of self, I was experiencing. It was a balmy summer morning and as is my custom I walked around the garden sniffing herbal aromas desperately trying to feel grateful and calm before going to work, but instead I felt depressed, exhausted, sad even. My hands, face and feet burned with pain. My once size ten, shapely body achieved through exercise and weight training, had ballooned into a size twenty two and for some obscure reason my feet and hands were getting bigger and it hurt. I did not want to go to work. This was inconceivable and distressing to me. On checking my appearance before leaving I noticed a swelling in my neck over the area of the thyroid gland. I grudgingly admitted to myself that this had gone on long enough and it was time to see the doctor. I had lost 'me'.

I told the doctor of the intense headaches which lasted for days and explained the way I got through the day – by keeping a duvet handy and using my lunch hour to sleep under my desk in my office, (I still do this). The doctor noted the weight gain, flaky skin and lack of eyebrows without any prompting. I should say here that as a qualified aromatherapist I had regularly applied every conceivable concoction I could dream up but nothing seemed to alleviate the skin problem. My daughter, also an aromatherapist and bit of a wag, jokingly remarked that anyone else would be embalmed by now! I took Evening Primrose Oil Oenothera biennis, vitamins E and C and various other supplements regularly, a habit formed when I was a keep fit enthusiast.

I had tests and saw a consultant endocrinologist. The tests revealed abnormal levels of thyroxin, growth hormone and prolactin, the latter caused my mammary glands to produce copious amounts of milk, another unpleasant symptom. I was sent for a CAT scan. The scan revealed a pituitary tumour and I found it hard to equate the massive changes both physically and emotionally with the few cells collected together in an area no bigger than a marrowfat pea. Then I had an MRI scan which in turn showed up a series of benign tumours in and around the pituitary. The surgeon to whom I was referred used the word 'peppered'. Laser would not be the answer. Radium treatment was offered but I declined. I opted for an oral medication which the surgeon explained would hopefully reduce the tumours and perhaps eradicate them completely. I accepted the treatment along with other medications including corticosteroids and thyroxin and, endeavouring to treat myself holistically, incorporated complementary medicine into my regime. Nausea was and still is a side effect. My bones, ossified for many years, started to grow. In six months my feet grew from a size four to a seven. My cheekbones ached but responded well to massage. After about a year I noticed some changes, weight loss, skin improvements and less headaches. In all of this I have been determined to stay positive. I have repeatedly told myself and others that I will get well, but recovery is testing, even now. Every day I renew my determination to live, not simply exist. I use my best china, smell the flowers, stroke the cats, dabble in the greenhouse and put on my make up, (but not necessarily in that order)! In all this time I have missed only one day at work. Oh I know my slippers are big and I still have some bad days, but I'm making progress. I am grateful for the love of friends and family, I accept encouragement, I stay positive and remember like everyone else, I possess inside, the essence of what I once was – and I may become it again.


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About Barbara Payne

Barbara Payne taught clinical aromatherapy in various hospitals in the North of England, for School of Health, University of Hull, and was principal of an IFA and IFPA accredited college of clinical aromatherapy, for many years. She served as an inspector and examiner and was Chair of Education for the ISPA, (now IFPA). Barbara had regular interviews with BBC radio and appeared on national television occasionally and lectured annually for the RHS. Having contributed to Positive Health over many years, Barbara has now decided to retire from her PH Expert Regular Column after Issue 154 in Jan 2009. She can be reached on Tel: 01482 835358;

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