A bikini model has revealed how a brain tumour caused her to gain three stone.
Vicki Perez first noticed she was gaining weight in October 2015, and in less than a year she had gone from 130lbs (9 stone 2Ibs) to 172lbs (12 stone 2Ibs).
Her face began to bloat and her feet swelled so large she was unable to wear shoes.
The shocked mum-of-one learnt she hadCushing’s disease caused by high cortisol levels. However, it wasn’t until January 2016 that she found out it was due to a deadly tumour on her pituitary gland.
Following two surgeries to have the tumour removed, Perez has finally began to recover and is sharing her story to raise awareness.
Perez, who’s studying to become a dental hygienist in Florida, said: “The gym and fitness has always been my passion.
“I train every day. So I was shocked when I noticed my face was getting puffy and my hands and feet were swelling like water retention.
“They were so swollen I had to wear men’s shoes and my clothes didn’t fit.
“I felt bloated all the time and I didn’t want to leave the house.
“I continued working out at the gym not realising I was causing damage.”
In February 2016, she noticed strange rashes on her hands and body and was rushed to hospital in anaphylactic shock.
Perez said: “When I saw the rashes I thought it was an allergy but the next day I work up and I couldn’t breathe.”
Despite numerous tests, medics continue to deny there was anything wrong.
The fed-up mum decided to see a Cushing Disease specialist at The University of Alabama.
She said: “I took my MRI and CT scan and they saw the tumour was in my brain.
“My hospital had completely mis-read it.”
After further tests, doctors were able to confirm it was a brain tumour.
She said: “I’m not sure how long I had the tumour. I thought I was going to die.”
After an initial surgery to remove the tumour on the left of her pituitary in June, and a second op to remove a second tumour in July, Perez’s health began to improve.
She said: “Two days after the first surgery and my feet were normal.
“I was excited, I felt great, I felt amazing but a month later I was back in hospital for the second surgery.
“The recovery was hard, it hurt to move. I had to teach to walk again and how to run again.
“I was angry and I was crying all the time. It messes with your hormones and makes you think you are crazy.”
The road to recovery is long and after eight months, Perez has a way to go but now her weight is down to 150lbs and she is able to wear shoes and her normal clothes again.
She said: “It’s a slow process. I am not 100% back to normal and any emotional stress can be dangerous for me and cause me to go into shock.
“But I am starting to see improvements and I’m just focusing on my son and school.
“My son really struggled with seeing me so sick but now I am able to spend time with him, he is so much better and not acting out at school.
“He’s the most important thing, I couldn’t have got through this without him.”
Perez is raising money to cover medical costs at gofundme.com/2bhpsu4.