I’m A Celeb: Russell Watson’s desperate plea before brain tumour was removed through lip
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Back in 2006, Russell Watson had the world at his feet. He'd sold seven million records, won two classical Brits and sung for the Queen, the Pope and President Bush.
But the I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here star's near-perfect world was shattered when he began to suffer agonising headaches.
"I was getting excruciating headaches and my left eye swelled so much it looked like I'd gone a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson," he previously told The Mirror.
"The pain on the bridge of my left nostril felt like someone had stuck a knife in it."
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Doctors wrote it off as stress, but when Russell, 53, flew to Los Angeles to record a new album and realised he couldn't see the ball during a game of tennis, he booked in to see a neurologist who quickly diagnosed a brain tumour that turned out to be the size of two golf balls.
Although the tumour (a pituitary adenoma) proved benign, Russell was warned that surgery to remove it might leave him blind or even kill him.
Fortunately, the three-hour operation which saw the growth taken out through his nose was a success.
Russell Watson was diagnosed with a brain tumour after suffering blinding headaches
(Image: Getty Images)
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"The tumour left a big hole in my head, which had to be filled with cotton wool," the star previously said. "I looked like an alien. But I was just grateful to be alive."
But a year later, Russell realised something was dangerously wrong when he was unable to wake up.
“I went to bed one night and after that I don’t really remember anything,” Russell told The Mirror in 2012. “I just recall being hiked down the stairs by two paramedics who were telling me, ‘Stay with us pal.'"
Doctors found that the tumour had regrown, and this time it had haemorrhaged in four places.
“The tumour was close to bursting and was pressing on my optic nerve, meaning I could go blind. To hear it had come back was my worst nightmare," he said.
But despite being told he needed an operation and he needed it immediately, Russell begged doctors to delay the surgery so he could see his young daughters Hannah and Rebecca one last time.
Russell Watson with his daughters Hannah and Rebecca, following successful surgery on a brain tumour
(Image: Andrew Stenning/Daily Mirror)
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“I was convinced I wouldn’t pull through,” he continued of the op, which this time saw surgeons remove the tumour through an incision in his top lip.
Thankfully, the surgery was again a success but what followed was a series of agonising after-effects and gruelling radiotherapy.
He lost his hair and needed hormone injections to stop sometimes-suicidal mood swings because his pituitary gland had been damaged.
As of 2018, he still needed a daily cocktail of drugs to fight the long-term effects.
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He previously explained: “I have to inject growth hormone, I have to take hydrochloride and I have to inject testosterone. Anything that ends in ‘one’, I have to take it!
“These are hydrocortisone. It is the body’s stress hormone and if I didn’t have that I would die. After 36 to 48 hours without it I would be in a coma."
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*I’m A Celebrity continues tonight at 9pm on ITV