Swimming instructor, 22, reveals her 'bipolar disorder' turned out to be a tennis-ball sized brain tumour

Laura Skerritt. See SWNS story SWBRtumour. A 22-year-old from Templecombe whose brain tumour was misdiagnosed as a mental illness is opening up about her terrifying ordeal. When Laura Skerritt began suffering from migraines, sickness and psychosis, she was prescribed anti-depressants and told that her symptoms were caused by anxiety, depression or even that she was bi-polar. The medication had no effect on Laura’s condition and over time she deteriorated further. By November 2018, she was struggling to walk and having seizures. A scan at Yeovil District Hospital revealed the news that Laura and her worried parents, Mark and Kate, feared the most. Laura was living with a tennis ball-sized brain tumour and she needed emergency surgery to prevent her having a potentially fatal stroke or seizure.
Laura Skerritt battled symptoms for two years before she was diagnosed. [Photo: SWNS]

A woman whose psychosis was dismissed as bipolar disorder later discovered she has a tennis-ball sized tumour in her brain.

Laura Skerritt, 22 - from Templecombe in Somerset - began suffering migraines, sickness and psychosis in 2016.

The swimming instructor went to her GP, who put the symptoms down to anxiety or depression.

READ MORE: Woman puts tiredness down to being a busy mum but it was actually a brain tumour

After being prescribed anti-depressants, Miss Skerritt deteriorated, with her struggling to walk and enduring seizures by November 2018.

A scan eventually revealed a central neurocytoma tumour, which required immediate surgery to prevent her suffering a life-threatening stroke.

Just over a year later, it has grown, with her having to go under the knife yet again.

Laura Skerritt's post operation scar. See SWNS story SWBRtumour. A 22-year-old from Templecombe whose brain tumour was misdiagnosed as a mental illness is opening up about her terrifying ordeal. When Laura Skerritt began suffering from migraines, sickness and psychosis, she was prescribed anti-depressants and told that her symptoms were caused by anxiety, depression or even that she was bi-polar. The medication had no effect on Laura’s condition and over time she deteriorated further. By November 2018, she was struggling to walk and having seizures. A scan at Yeovil District Hospital revealed the news that Laura and her worried parents, Mark and Kate, feared the most. Laura was living with a tennis ball-sized brain tumour and she needed emergency surgery to prevent her having a potentially fatal stroke or seizure.
She went under the knife in November 2018 to remove 80% of her tumour. [Photo: SWNS]

“It took over two years to get a brain tumour diagnosis so I’m keen to share my story to help raise awareness,” Miss Skerritt said.

“I sensed my health problems weren’t being caused by mental illness.

“I’m quite an emotional person and flip between happy and sad moods, but this is just part of my quirky personality.”

Central neurocytoma tumours are rare and non-cancerous, according to scientists from the University of California in LA.

They often arise in the fluid-rich lateral ventricles in the centre of the brain. These help cushion the vital organ, while circulating nutrients and removing waste.

“It's not strictly classed as cancerous as it is a benign tumour rather than malignant,” Miss Skerritt’s mother Kate said.

“But sadly, it has grown and any growth can end up being referred to as cancerous.”

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Kate knew something was seriously wrong when Miss Skerritt collapsed in front of her in November 2018.

“As she was walking towards me into the supermarket she experienced what's called a 'drop attack' and her legs just gave way,” she said.

“That was when I rang the doctor and insisted Laura have a CT scan, just to rule anything out.

“Unfortunately, it ended up ruling in a tumour.

“It was such a serious diagnosis she was blue-lighted up to Bristol Royal Infirmary and was in surgery within 24 hours.”

The operation removed 80% of her tumour, however, parts were inoperable.

“Because it's such a delicate procedure because of how the tumour had grown in her brain, they couldn't just go and chop it all out, they had to be really careful,” Kate said.

The last thing Miss Skerritt recalls is being wheeled into surgery with her mother and boyfriend Harry.

“I don’t remember anything from surgery and recovery was tough,” she said.

“I lost two stone, had to re-learn how to talk and was in constant agony because my muscles had wasted away.

“I recently suffered a major seizure and now I need a second operation followed by eight weeks of intensive radiotherapy.”

Kate added: “It's now grown back to a size where it's causing her almost as many problems as it was before her first operation.

“She's now having another surgery very similar to the first, where they're going to attempt to take more of the tumour out this time, as much as they possibly can.”

Laura Skerritt in hospital with her boyfriend. See SWNS story SWBRtumour. A 22-year-old from Templecombe whose brain tumour was misdiagnosed as a mental illness is opening up about her terrifying ordeal. When Laura Skerritt began suffering from migraines, sickness and psychosis, she was prescribed anti-depressants and told that her symptoms were caused by anxiety, depression or even that she was bi-polar. The medication had no effect on Laura’s condition and over time she deteriorated further. By November 2018, she was struggling to walk and having seizures. A scan at Yeovil District Hospital revealed the news that Laura and her worried parents, Mark and Kate, feared the most. Laura was living with a tennis ball-sized brain tumour and she needed emergency surgery to prevent her having a potentially fatal stroke or seizure.
Miss Skerritt's boyfriend Harry was there to support her after the surgery. [Photo: SWNS]

As well as its physical effects, the ordeal has also altered Miss Skerritt’s outlook on life.

“Up until my brain tumour diagnosis, I thought I was invincible,” she said.

“I never worried about my health and my mortality was never something that crossed my mind.

“My diagnosis changed my outlook on life. I’m not sure whether or not I want kids, for fear of them inheriting the disease or seeing me suffer with symptoms.

“My plans of moving out were put on hold. I had to give up my driving licence and, living in the middle of the Somerset countryside, with that I lost my independence.”

For now, Miss Skerritt’s future is unclear.

“Until they've completed this second surgery, no-one knows what the recovery process will be like going forward,” Kate said.

READ MORE: Woman reveals she was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 19

Miss Skerritt is working with the charity Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness of the disease.

“We are very grateful to Laura for opening up about her brain tumour diagnosis,” Mel Tiley, community fundraising manager of the charity in the south west, said.

“We hope those touched by her story will donate to Brain Tumour Research.

“Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age.

"What’s more, less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years, compared with an average of 50% across all cancers.

“We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.”

Brain Tumour Research is calling for an annual spend of £35m ($45.1m) to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers, like breast cancer and leukaemia.

Donate to the charity’s fundraising efforts here.

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