Woman’s brain tumour caused her to ‘smell bacon’ and suffer hallucinations

Woman’s brain tumour caused her to ‘smell bacon’ and suffer hallucinations

A young woman was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering from a range of bizarre symptoms including smelling bacon. Vegetarian Lucy Younger, 23, thought she was “going insane” and also experienced seizures and deja vu.

Initially she was misdiagnosed with panic disorder and given antidepressants despite multiple trips to the GP. However, tests revealed the shocking truth.

Lucy first started noticing symptoms just after she started her BA in English at Goldsmiths, in September 2019. The first unusual signs were deja vu as well as visual hallucinations – including things like pink elephants and rollercoasters.

Initially thinking she was just partying too hard during freshers, Lucy stopped drinking as often, and regularly chose staying in over nights out. But her symptoms only started getting worse and she experienced a range of sensory hallucinations, like smelling bacon, pins and needles in her face and tasting metal.

Lucy tried to downplay her symptoms at first, thinking they’d pass, but once she started getting sharp headaches, she decided to visit the GP for the first time.

She said: “Straight away, they were like it’s anxiety. I didn’t feel all that anxious, but I’d just done a big move from Newquay to London and was meeting lots of new people – so I thought, I guess my brain’s just working overtime.

“But I was still sceptical. I felt really happy with where my life was at that point.”

She continued: “Doctors were telling me one thing, but it wasn’t until I Googled my symptoms that I realised, I think I have a brain tumour.

“I genuinely felt like I was going insane for so long, I was being told my seizures were panic attacks. When the symptoms first started I thought it was weird. But I was drinking a little bit, so I thought I must’ve been overdoing it.

“I calmed down on the nights out and adapted my lifestyle, but once uni actually started, the symptoms only got worse.

“I was smelling bacon all the time. I’m a vegetarian, so I was like, what the hell is going on?”

In March 2020, Lucy returned home to Newquay after lockdown restrictions were put in place. Here, her symptoms started rapidly worsening.

She said: “I had a couple of bigger seizures when I went home. I actually passed out with these ones.

“I started getting migraines so bad the entire right side of my body would go numb. I thought, I’m either going into psychosis or I’ve got a tumour. It definitely wasn’t depression or anxiety.”

After more appointments and a tearful phone call to her local pharmacist Lucy was booked in for a CT scan.

Lucy added: “I went in the July and finally got my diagnosis of a benign brain tumour.”

Four months later, Lucy underwent a craniotomy, a type of brain surgery, to remove the tumour.

She took a year out of university in order to do this as her seizures and surgery had left her with short-term memory loss.

“I was completely out of it during recovery,” she said. “I remember not being able to walk very well. I had to go back to beginner ballet classes after learning since I was a teenager. I also realised, I’d been diagnosed with dyslexia when I’d just started uni – that was all to do with my brain tumour.”

Finally in July 2021, Lucy returned to finish her English degree – and graduated one year later.

According to the NHS common signs of a brain tumour include:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness
  • Mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
  • Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Vision or speech problems.

If you experience any unexplained symptoms you should speak to your GP.

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