WHEN Kirsty Lane noticed her nipples were leaking, she was suffering headaches, mood swings and irregular periods she put it down to stress.
But a GP told the nurse her contraceptive pill could be to blame.
Yet, the 26-year-old's true diagnosis was much more concerning - she was living with a brain tumour.
A routine blood test revealed the then student nurse had a prolactinoma - a tumour on the pituitary gland in the centre of the brain.
Kirsty, from Weeting, Suffolk, said: "Just hearing that word 'tumour' made me panic.
"That was really the only thing I listened to. I heard the word tumour and brain and I just thought I was dying.
"It was so awful. I left the surgery and just sobbed and sobbed and my husband, Mark, came to meet me."
Kirsty first began feeling unwell towards the end of her degree in 2013.
As well as having constant headaches, her menstrual cycle stopped and she noticed a white milky liquid leaking from her breasts.
Her lorry driver husband, Mark, 40, told her to see the doctor when she experienced out-of-character mood swings.
"My mood was awful. I was constantly stroppy and really low," she said.
"Mark had to sit me down and say that being a moody mare just wasn't like me at all.
"With the headaches and the fact I wasn't menstruating, he knew something wasn't right."
It was at this point in 2014 that her GP suspected she was reacting badly to the Pill, which she had been taking for eight years.
As a nurse Kirsty knew her symptoms could be caused by the Pill, but she admits she feared they were caused by something more serious.
"There was a point when I thought maybe there was something wrong with my brain, as my headaches were always in the same place and so severe," she said.
"I was so busy with everything that I sort of put it to the back of my mind, though.
"And when my doctor mentioned the Pill, I felt like that made perfect sense."
Kirsty stopped taking the Pill but about a year later her symptoms had become worse.
She went back to her GP who sent her for a blood test that revealed the tumour.
"Three days after the blood test, I received an urgent call from my doctor, asking me to go back to the surgery," she recalled.
"I still thought it was just something to do with the Pill, so I didn't take anyone with me - only to discover I had a brain tumour."
A week later an MRI scan revealed Kirsty's tumour was small and was not touching her optic nerve - a common risk with this type of brain tumour.
She did not need surgery to remove the tumour, instead it was treated with medication.
The tumour meant her pituitary gland wasn't functioning properly and was producing too much prolactin, the hormone which stimulates milk production after childbirth.
Kirsty was prescribed a drug called cabergoline, used to treat high levels of prolactin in the body, and within weeks she started feeling like her normal self.
But Kirsty was worried that her condition could affect her chances of having children.
"When the doctor discovered my prolactin levels were very raised, I also had zero oestrogen, so my ovaries just weren't working at all.
"I fretted that I'd never be able to have a family, especially because, when they prescribed my medication, they told me I wouldn't be able to take it when I was trying for children.
"I was really upset.
"It's not until something like that this happens that you realise you can't just assume anything.
"Fortunately, however, my menstrual cycle is back to normal now and it looks like, if I did fall pregnant, I'd be able to stop taking the cabergoline for that period, without any concerns."
Since starting treatment, Kirsty's headaches have almost disappeared and her mood is stable.
"I feel like the moody me, with all the health problems was a completely different person," she said.
"I'm really lucky that the medication worked and I didn't need any surgery.
"I know I will probably have to be on the medication for life but things are so much better.
"And, hopefully, I'll have a family with Mark one day, too."
Kirsty has been supported by the Pituitary Foundation and is raising money for the charity during Pituitary Awareness Month.
For more information you can visit their website here.
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