A fitness model in Florida noticed she was gaining weight even when she was training everyday, in less than a year, her weight dramatically went up from 130 pounds and 172 pounds. She maintained her strict diet and daily schedule but even that didn’t stop her drastic weight gain.
Vicki Perez then started to experience swelling and bloating of her hands and feet to the point that she was no longer able to wear her shoes and clothes.
When she went to consult a doctor, the fitness model was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease caused by high cortisol levels – a steroid hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism. And it wasn’t until January 2016 that she found out it was due to a tumor on her pituitary gland.
‘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 realizing I was causing damage.’
In February 2016, she noticed strange rashes on her hands and body and was rushed to hospital in anaphylactic shock.
‘When I saw the rashes I thought it was an allergy but the next day I work up and I couldn’t breathe.’
Perez then decided to consult a Cushing Disease Specialist at the University Of Alabama.
‘I took my MRI and CT scan and they saw the tumor was in my brain.’
‘My hospital had completely misread it.’
After further tests, doctors were able to confirm it was a brain tumor.
I’m not sure how long I had the tumor. I thought I was going to die.’, Perez recalls.
She underwent surgery to remove the tumor on the left of her pituitary gland in June, and a second operation to remove a second tumor in July, Vicki’s health began to improve.
‘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 myself 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.’
Recovery took long and after eight months Vicki still has a way to go but now her weight is down to 150 pounds and she is able to wear shoes and her normal clothes again.
‘It’s a slow process
‘I am not 100 percent 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.’