A St Helens dad has told how his sight was saved after surgeons removed a large brain tumour – by operating through his nose.
Simon Stevenson-Black underwent the rare surgical procedure to remove a growth which doctors believe had been growing for up to a decade before he was diagnosed.
Because of its position close to his left eye, doctors feared he could eventually be blinded if the operation did not go ahead. However, the 39-year-old stunned medics by making such a speedy recovery that he was driving and back at work within weeks of his operation.
Dad-of-two Simon suffered a decade of splitting headaches and lack of energy but put his ailments down to the stresses and strains of work.
It wasn’t until he found that his vision had begun to blur and cloud over that his wife, Kate, finally persuaded him to visit his GP.
After spectacularly failing an eye test, medics booked him in for an MRI scan – and his GP revealed it showed a worrying shadow.
Simon, of Hedworth Gardens, Rainhill, said: “Waiting for answers that weekend was awful. We went to some pretty dark places. But by the Monday I resolved that, whatever the tests showed, the only way to address it was head-on.”
Doctors discovered Simon had a 3cm benign tumour growing on his pituitary gland - the small oval-shaped gland at the base of the brain below the optic nerve.
Astonishingly, his consultant estimated that it had been growing for up to 10 years.
“That thought really stuck in our minds,” he said.
“How could something so major have been going on inside my body for so long without me realising?”
Within days of diagnosis Simon was admitted to the Walton Centre in Liverpool. He told daughters Lily, eight, and Faith, six, he was having the backs of his eyes washed.
The operation involved surgeons carefully removing the tumour in pieces through his nostril.
Simon, a landscape architect, was back home five days later and driving his car again within a month.
His story is set to be featured in the new Channel 5 series Brain Hospital: Saving Lives at 9pm tomorrow evening (Thursday, February 13).
He said: “It was quite emotional watching the first draft of the episode. There’s a lot of stuff on there that I wasn’t aware of at the time and it brings all the feelings, emotions and terror right back.
“To see the operation itself was a bit weird too. I’m glad I participated though. If just one person sees the programme, recognises they feel the same as I did and goes to get themselves checked out then it will have all been worth it.”
Although surgeons were not quite able to remove the entire tumour - which means further monitoring - Simon now feels 10 years younger.
He added: “The headaches have stopped and the hair growth is returning. I feel very lucky. We all face different challenges throughout our lives but the outcome for me is looking very positive and promising at this stage.”