A MUM-OF-TWO from York has told of how her life and sight was saved after she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
Louise Twissell, 47, of Acomb, says pioneering cancer research saved her life after doctors discovered a large tumour which was crushing her optic nerve.
Ms Twissell had initially thought she was suffering with a cold but when her condition worsened and she developed numbness and a tingling sensation on the left side of her face she was diagnosed with the rare sinonasal carcinoma.
By the end of 2009, her eyesight was deteriorating daily as the aggressive stage 4 cancer had already spread to the base of her skull and the tumour had grown so much it was squashing the optic nerve in her left eye.
As surgery was not possible, a specialist oncologist at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds decided on seven weeks of radical radiotherapy treatment, alongside three intense chemotherapy sessions.
Ms Twissell, who has a daughter, Ruth, aged 22 and son Matthew, aged 20, said: “They told me if that even if the treatment was successful, there was a strong possibility that I would lose my sight.
“Also, it could take at least 18 to 24 months before my energy levels would return to normal and that I would probably never work again.
“I was left totally blind in my left eye.
“However, due to the skill and expertise of my amazing doctors, they were able to save the vision in my right eye.
“Thankfully, in July 2010, I was given the all-clear and the following January, I returned to work part-time.
“I still suffer with numbness and burning to the left side of my face, and my right eye needs daily medication, but I’m not going to let it stop me.”
Ms Twissell, an emergency medical dispatcher with Yorkshire Ambulance Service in York, said the experience had transformed her life.
She said that while she had to deal with balance problems and tired easily, she was very appreciative for her life and much more laid-back.
Now a fundraiser for Cancer Research, she is encouraging more people to fundraise through a regular charity donation, through volunteering, or by getting involved with an event such as Race For Life.
Ms Twissell said: “I know from experience that research kills cancer and I consider myself an extremely lucky person.
“Without the advances in cancer research, I would not like to think where I would be now.
“There are so many success stories like mine that would not be possible without Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work, which in turn relies on everyone who raises money.”
To support Cancer Research UK, visit cruk.org