Honeymoon flight could have paralysed bride-to-be

Sarah Kelly and fiance Lee Killon
Sarah Kelly and fiance Lee Killon
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  • Tumour in spine discovered just days before wedding
  • Surgeon told Sarah that if she’d gone on honeymoon the flight would have left her paralysed
  • Determined to walk down the aisle at rearranged wedding next year

A bride-to-be says that going on her dream honeymoon to Mexico could have paralysed her because of a huge tumour on her spine.

Sarah Kelly, 34, was days from marrying Lee Killon when doctors discovered the growth.

The wedding was cancelled and Sarah had emergency surgery at Royal Preston Hospital to remove it. Medics said that if she had got on the plane, the pressure in the cabin would have led to paralysis.

Sarah, who lives in St Annes, says that she had been deliriously happy and looking forward to marrying Lee, whom she has been with for six years.

Sarah, who works in sales support at Nature’s Aid in Kirkham, vitamins and supplements manufacturer, explains: “Lee and I met through a dating website and went on our first date in August 2009.

“We met at Costa Coffee in St Annes, then went for a walk and fed the ducks and had our first kiss on a bench.

“We got engaged in June 2011. We knew from the moment we met we were meant for each other. Lee is my best friend and my soul mate.

Sarah and Lee booked their wedding date for June 13 this year.

But some time before that, Sarah started suffering signs something wasn’t quite right.

Sarah explains: “I first started experiencing symptoms around September 2013.

“We were on a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads and I started getting weird shooting sensations in my left leg.

“They weren’t painful, but strange burning type sensations which would come and go. They carried on happening after the holiday.

“Lee nagged me to go to the doctors, but I didn’t want to be a timewaster. I thought it was something like restless legs.”

However, just after Christmas, Sarah’s leg sensations worsened and became painful.

She recalls: “It felt like someone was stabbing me in the leg with a hot poker and kept me awake at night.

“I tried paracetamol, ibuprofen, cocodamol, Deep Heat and even bought a tens machine online. But nothing worked.”

Sarah then began experiencing issues with her balance and having bladder problems.

At this point, Sarah googled her symptoms and was terrified to find she might have MS.

She saw a neurologist at Royal Preston Hospital who performed a neurological exam and told her something was definitely wrong and she needed an MRI scan.

Sarah was told it would take four to six weeks for an MRI scan appointment and another four to six weeks for the result.

“I began researching going private as I didn’t want to wait so long.

“However, it cost £700 for an MRI scan privately and, with the wedding coming up, we didn’t have that money to spare.”

Sarah had her MRI scan on May 29 and, as the results weren’t due until after the wedding and honeymoon, she thought she would put it out of her mind and deal with the consequences when they returned home.

Sarah says: “It did cast a shadow over our wedding and I cancelled my hen do as my heart wasn’t in celebrating with this hanging over us.

“But I tried to put my worries aside and, at the beginning of June, I started getting excited about the wedding.”

However, on June 3, Sarah received a voicemail at work asking her to call Royal Preston Hospital.

Sarah says: “When I called back, they said: ‘We need to admit you. Can you come in today?’

“When I asked why, they didn’t know but told me I would be in for five to seven days.

“I said: ‘But I’m getting married in 10 days!’

“I asked them to get a doctor to ring me and explain what was going on.

“A doctor called back and was reluctant at first to tell me over the phone. But I said: ‘Look, I’m at work and I get married in 10 days. I can’t just drop everything unless it’s necessary so please just tell me what’s going on.’

“She then told me they had the MRI results and it wasn’t MS. However, there was something compressing on my spine which they urgently needed to get out.”

A shaken Sarah and Lee went to Royal Preston Hospital and were shown a scan revealing a large tumour compressing Sarah’s spinal cord.

Sarah says: “The tumour looked like the size of an egg and the doctor said he was amazed I could actually walk with the way it was compressing on my spinal cord.

“He said: ‘I don’t think you’ll be getting married next week’ and I just burst into tears.”

Sarah was told she would be operated on the following Wednesday and was put on steroids to relieve the pressure on her spine.

She was discharged until then which gave her and Lee time to cancel their wedding.

Sarah says: “We were panicking we were going to lose lots of money.

“But everyone was lovely. The hotel Inn On The Prom were brilliant and said they’d just transfer our booking to our new date in February.

“Everyone was amazing from the florist to the cake maker.

“It really restored our faith in human nature.”

Sarah and Lee feared they would lose the money spent on their honeymoon to Mexico.

Sarah explains: “We didn’t have travel insurance as we always thought travel insurance was something you needed while you were actually away.

“The honeymoon cost us over £3,000 and we were worried we’d lose it all. We knew we would never be able to save that up again before February.

“We went into Thomson’s in St Annes and the manager Katrina Hennessey was amazing.

“Technically, she didn’t have to help us at all as we hadn’t even booked with the shop but online.

“Katrina told us there was a good chance we’d lose the money as we didn’t have travel insurance but that she’d do everything in her power to help us.

“She rang us back a couple of days later and, by this time, we had accepted we’d had lost our money.

“But she told us she had persisted and gone higher and higher until she got someone to agree to transfer our honeymoon to our new date.

“All we lost was £230 to transfer the honeymoon to February.

“Katrina was wonderful and we have now invited her to our wedding!”

Sarah was admitted to Royal Preston Hospital on Wednesday June 10 for her surgery.

Lee, 34, a reiki practitioner and card reader who runs Equinox Healing, says: “Waiting for Sarah to come out of surgery was horrible. It felt like the longest day of my life.

“I saw the surgeon and he told me they’d managed to get the whole tumour out but Sarah’s right side was currently paralysed.

“Even though it was a shock, I was just glad Sarah was OK and recovering.”

Sarah’s right leg is currently paralysed and she has limited mobility in her left leg.

Sarah says: “For the first few days, I had no feeling in my legs, but by the Saturday, I could wiggle my toes a bit.

“An MRI scan since the surgery has shown damage to the area of my spinal cord where the tumour was. At the moment, they don’t know if this is permanent.

“The type of tumour I had was meningioma and 85 per cent of these occur in the brain. I feel quite lucky mine was in my spine.

“The surgeon said there is no doubt in his mind that if we had got on that plane to Mexico, the pressure in the cabin would have paralysed me.”

Sarah now faces spending the next six months at Preston’s rehabilitation unit learning to walk again.

She is determined to walk down the aisle when she marries Lee at their re-booked wedding date of February 6 next year.

Sarah says: “I want to walk down the aisle, even if it’s with a frame or crutches.

“But even if I end up being in a wheelchair, I won’t postpone the wedding again as I can’t wait any longer to marry Lee.”