by Carol Dyce
Celebrating their first wedding ceremony anniversary in Cyprus wasn’t the romantic celebration Russ and Kelly Lees had deliberate when he had a seizure and was identified with a mind tumour, present process a life-saving 11-hour operation.
The couple’s deliberate four-day journey become a six-week keep on the Mediterranean island as they struggled to navigate the medical system and confronted a painful separation from their youngsters Casey, six, and Chloe, two, and Russ’ daughter Bethan, 15.
Satirically, the couple’s nightmare journey began off as a much-needed break for some high quality time collectively.
“My mum prompt that Russ and I went out to our villa for an extended weekend when lockdown lifted as we hadn’t any time to ourselves since we received married in Might 2019,” stated Kelly, 38, from Farnham, Hampshire.
“In the midst of planning our wedding ceremony, we grew to become guardians for my niece and nephew Casey and Chloe and welcomed them into our house. Along with Bethan who lives with us half the time and Casey and Chloe’s half-sister, Claire, who typically stays with us, we grew to become a household of six.
“We additionally wanted to verify on the villa nevertheless it was so traumatic making an attempt to ebook flights, get Covid checks and kind out the youngsters for my mother and father that we practically determined to not go. However my mum urged us to go as we would have liked a break. If solely we’d recognized.”
Russ, 39, was despatched house from his first journey to hospital when docs put his signs all the way down to an excessive amount of alcohol and solar.
“He was dismissed as a ‘typical British vacationer’ they usually didn’t take his signs significantly in any respect,” stated Kelly.
“I used to be so upset and annoyed as I knew Russ wasn’t drunk – one thing had occurred to him.”
Again at their villa 5 hours later, Russ had what they now know is a stroke they usually known as an ambulance once more. This time he had a CT scan, which revealed a “mass” on his mind and he had surgical procedure two weeks later.
They had been relieved when docs instructed them biopsy outcomes revealed the tumour was a low-grade (non-cancerous) oligodendroglioma.
After Russ was signed off as match to journey, they lastly received a flight house on November 9, 2020 to an emotional reunion with Casey and Chloe, being sorted by their grandparents at house.
However their pleasure was quick lived once they had had a devastating blow after Russ’ biopsy was re-tested and his tumour regraded to a grade 3 most cancers.
He’s simply completed a six-week course of radiotherapy and can now have 4 weeks’ relaxation earlier than chemotherapy for six- 9 months.
“We had been in shock and didn’t hear something after the phrase ‘most cancers’,” stated Kelly.
“Russ tolerated remedy fairly properly however the fatigue is basically kicking in.”
Now the couple are sharing their story to assist The Mind Tumour Charity thebraintumourcharity.org increase consciousness about mind tumours – the largest most cancers killer of under-40s within the UK – and spotlight the significance of its support services as a mind tumour analysis has such an affect on emotional and psychological well being.
“We didn’t know the place to show as we struggled with Russ’ analysis,” stated Kelly.
“It was such a shock for him and it impacts the entire household. Once we reached out to The Mind Tumour Charity’s assist staff, we didn’t really feel so alone anymore.”
The couple’s ordeal began after they flew out to their villa in Kapparis on the south of the island on September 23, 2020.
“We received there late on the Wednesday night time and spent Thursday and Friday checking on the villa and stress-free over dinner and just a few drinks,” stated Kelly.
“On the Saturday morning, Russ talked about that he had a headache and felt in poor health. I teased him, ‘that’ll be the cocktails you drank final night time! I used to be making tea and after I turned spherical, I noticed that Russ’ left arm was jerking. He’s prankster and I believed he was messing about, so I instructed him to cease it. However then he dropped his glass and it smashed on the ground. He was jerking alongside the left-hand facet of his physique and his arm and leg had been locked in place.
“Russ is 6ft 4in and 20 stone and I’m solely 5ft 4in so I couldn’t elevate him. I managed to kick the stool out from beneath him and he fell to the ground together with his left leg nonetheless locked.”
Kelly Facetimed her pals Tracy and Scott Walker who dwell close by, for assist and blurted out Russ was having a seizure.
“I used to be so scared and stated ‘Name an ambulance, please assist me,’” stated Kelly.
The couple known as emergency providers and rushed straight spherical to the villa.
“Russ’s seizure lasted for about 20 minutes,” stated Kelly.
“He was taken within the ambulance to the native hospital. I couldn’t go along with him on account of Covid so I adopted within the automobile with Tracy and Scott. Once we received to the hospital they stated that Russ was drunk and that he had sunstroke.
Russ was despatched house after blood checks got here again clear. He was drained and went to mattress.
“I woke him up after just a few hours,” stated Kelly.
“He stood up and checked out me saying. ‘It’s occurring…..” and earlier than he might end his sentence, he keeled over. I put a towel beneath his head because it was a tough, tiled flooring and moved him into the restoration place whereas I attempted to name Tracy.”
At that second, Tracy and her son, Mark, walked via the door with a sizzling water bottle we’d requested to borrow.
“By then, Russ’ left facet of his face was droopy and he couldn’t elevate his left arm,” stated Kelly.
“We known as an ambulance once more and the paramedics needed him to get on a stretcher or in a wheelchair, however he insisted on strolling to the ambulance. However as he tried to climb as much as the ambulance, he fell flat on his face as he had no feeling in his left leg.”
This time, Russ had a CT scan, which revealed a “mass” on his mind and he was transferred to New Normal Hospital within the capital of the island, Nicosia a one-and-a–half hour’s drive away.
“I burst into tears and felt so frightened, particularly as we had been away from house out of the country the place I didn’t converse the language and didn’t perceive the well being care system,” stated Kelly.
“We rushed again to the villa to pack him an in a single day bag and it was practically 10.30pm by the point we received to the hospital. I might solely keep for a couple of minutes on account of Covid so I gave him his bag earlier than we drove the one-and-half hours again house once more.”
The hospital was shut to guests on Sundays, in order that they made the three- hour spherical journey to see Russ on the Monday. He’d had an MRI scan, which confirmed he had a big mind tumour.
“In addition to the language barrier, it was troublesome to seek out out what was occurring on account of restricted visiting hours and the docs didn’t make their rounds till after I left,” stated Kelly.
Poignantly, devoted dad Russ was frightened he wouldn’t make it via surgical procedure.
“He stated to me. ‘What if I by no means see my children once more?’’ stated Kelly.
“I used to be terrified, too, and fearful concerning the affect on the youngsters at house. We managed to get Bethan and her mum flights to return over to see him,”
After every week in hospital, Russ was discharged earlier than surgical procedure and Kelly sorted him for an extended weekend at Tracy and Scott’s, which had turn out to be her “second house.”
“We had been despatched house with all his medicine and directions,” stated Kelly.
“I used to be terrified about taking care of him and I don’t know what I might have executed with out Tracy. Scott and Mark’s assist.”
Again at house, pals Nick and Siobhan Wright arrange a go-fund me page for the couple calling them “two of the kindest, most caring and beneficiant individuals you’ll ever meet,” to assist with prices as plant engineer Russ shall be off work long-term throughout his remedy and restoration.
Russ had surgical procedure on October 8. 2020.
‘”I used to be instructed it will take three-five hours however he was in theatre for over 11 hours,” stated Kelly.
“I used to be frantic with fear and it appeared like an eternity.”
At 5pm, they went to the ward and had been instructed, “He’s not right here,”
“My thoughts leapt to a darkish place and was terrified he hadn’t made it via surgical procedure,” stated Kelly.
“”hen I noticed I noticed a determine being wheeled out and I stated to Mark. “That’s my husband! That’s Russ.” I might inform by the way in which he had his arm on his head and I recognised his tattoo. I’ve by no means been so relieved or completely satisfied to see anybody. He was fairly out of it, however managed to say, ‘I made it then, Babe. He requested what he regarded like and I took an image. Then he began singing, ‘I’m somewhat tea pot.’ In fact he doesn’t consider it, I want I’d filmed it!”
Surgeons had eliminated the entire tumour which was 5.1cm x 9cm deep and near his spinal twine, which is why surgical procedure took so lengthy.
4 days later, Russ was discharged and the couple stayed with Tracy and Scott for just a few days earlier than going again to the villa.
“Bethan and her mum arrived after he’d been discharged,” stated Kelly.
“It actually gave Russ a lift to see his daughter and he or she was reassured to see he was OK. We had been lacking Casey and Chloe terribly they usually had been lacking us, and I used to be fearful they wouldn’t perceive why we couldn’t be with them.
“We instructed them that Daddy had a poorly head and we couldn’t come house but.”
On October 23, 2020, Russ went again to hospital to have the staples in his wound taken out.
“We needed to wait till Russ was signed off by a health care provider to journey after which on account of Covid, flights stored getting cancelled,” stated Kelly.
“We stunned the youngsters as we didn’t need them to be disenchanted if the flight received cancelled. Their little faces simply lit up they usually had been so excited once we walked into the home.”
Now life is difficult for the household as Russ undergoes remedy.
“’It’s full-on making an attempt to juggle all the pieces and supporting Russ,” stated Kelly.
“I’ve received the youngsters and their faculty work to maintain up with and I’m working two days every week as a PA as Russ can’t work, so we’ve received monetary strain on prime of all the pieces else. Our vacation is one I’ll always remember – however for all of the improper causes.”
However the couple are decided to depend their blessings.
“Going via this has introduced us nearer than ever,” stated Kelly.
“It brings it house what’s actually vital in life and our household means all the pieces to us.”
Russ stated: “I might by no means have gotten via it with out love and assist from Kelly and our Cyprus household particularly our ‘mum and pop’, Scott and Tracy.
“It was one of many scariest instances in my life, and makes you concentrate on life and the way simply it may possibly change – and the way to not take issues with no consideration.”
Russ’ story initially ran in The Mirror. Learn it here