Pamela Tully (39), from Kilnamanagh, was looking after baby daughter Alix and juggling working from home as a human resources official for Vodafone when Covid-19 brought the country to a standstill in 2020.
“I had been getting headaches – nothing out of the ordinary but it was niggling me, and I decided to go to my GP in June 2020,” said Ms Tully. “I thought it was all due to the pace of looking after a new baby, home working and studying for a master’s degree.”
“Thankfully, she decided to send me for an MRI and a few days later I got a call. They had found a meningioma brain tumour. I was put in the care of neurosurgeon Stephen McNally in Beaumont Hospital.
“At that point, they did not know if it was cancerous or not. When I went back in August, it had grown slightly but by November it had doubled in size.”
She had to undergo brain surgery, known as a craniotomy, and it was only after the tumour was analysed that she found out it was a grade 2 atypical non-cancer meningioma. “It has a 20pc to 30pc chance of recurrence in the course of 10 years,” said Ms Tully.
However, she was not prepared for the long recovery and suffered seizures every few days, which she describes as “one of the scariest things you can go through,” with loss of speech and tingling down her side.
“It took several attempts to adjust medication to bring them under control. My brain took a year to repair,” added Ms Tully. Mental fatigue was among the worst symptoms.
Ms Tully returned to work after six months, phasing in her hours, but found out that time is essential to allow someone with her condition to get better.
“I feel great now. I can still overdo it but it is no comparison to where I was a year ago,” she said.
Ms Tully faces six-monthly scans to check the tumour has not returned.
Before the pandemic, Ms Tully, whose passion is music, also worked as a wedding singer and had written songs.
“I always wanted to record and release my own music. I was putting it off for 15 years and I was always too busy. Life got in the way,” she said.
“I was told I might lose my voice at the beginning. I am so grateful I did not. My illness has taught me that tomorrow is not promised.”
She fulfilled her dream and her second single is Just Like You, an uplifting mix of pop and rock, showcasing the journey from trauma, not just illness, to recovery.
“I am now in production for a third single,” said Ms Tully. “If it was not for lockdown, I might not have sought medical help so soon and I would urge others not to delay getting something checked if they are worried.”
Ms Tully is supporting Wear A Hat Day on November 4, when people are asked to wear a favourite hat and donate €4 to Brain Tumour Ireland.
News of other events are available at braintumourireland.com