Lisa Robinson, 44, travelled alone to the resort of Antalya, on the Southern coast, on 24 June for a routine consultation at the Magic Smile Turkey clinic after having a lower teeth veneer procedure in February.
When she walked into the clinic she began to act as if she was “drunk” and lost her balance, prompting her dentists to send her for immediate medical assistance at a nearby hospital.
The mum-of-two said doctors initially thought she was “possessed” after her brown eyes turned “blue” and rolled to one side of her head.
She explained: “I had gone to the clinic. And whilst I was there, I was presenting in an intoxicated state. I had no balance, and I was falling back as though I had been drinking alcohol. But I told the doctor I hadn’t.
“They then transported me to the hospital, and when I got there, and had to give them £620 before I was seen.
“At the hospital, I was still presenting as agitated. In fact, the staff now say I was ‘possessed’.
“My eyes were at the side of my head. I’ve got really brown eyes, but apparently at that time, my eyes were blue, and I was vomiting all over the hospital.
After sending her for an MRI scan, doctors discovered she had a glioblastoma - an aggressive brain tumour the size of a “clenched fist” - and a bleed on the brain.
Ms Robinson, a mental health nurse from Consett, County Durham, was quickly taken for a critical 13-hour operation and was given just a 25% chance of survival, but pulled through after surgeons stopped the bleed and removed most of the growth.
She said: “I got a blood transfusion and an MRI scan. That identified that I had a big cyst on the brain the size of a clenched first, and I was also haemorrhaging with a lot of blood present.
“Because I had hair extensions in, they had to shave my head, and I then had an operation that lasted 13 hours and I woke up in intensive care.
“Staff came to me and said: ‘You’re very lucky to be alive. We didn’t think you’d pull through. You had a 25 per cent survival rate, and you could have been severely paralysed.”
Her partner, Michael Ringer, flew out to see her following her operation, along with her daughter and sister, and she shared a touching moment with him as she lay in hospital.
She said: “I was in intensive care, and I didn’t even know who my partner was.
"He was all gowned up and waiting to come in – and then he said, “Are you alright, pet?” And then I knew it was Mic.”
‘I feel so frustrated’
The 44-year-old said she felt “elated” after waking from the surgery, but later found out she needed to pay a £55,000 (€65,000) bill after her health insurer Axa Partners refused to pay for her treatment because she had not “declared her previous medical history” on her insurance forms.
She said: “I wanted to take photos with all the family who had flown over. I was elated. However, the hospital wouldn’t release us until we paid €65,000.
“So we had finance meetings, and we had to put down almost €15,000, [£12,700] and later on another lump sum, and we still owe the rest.”
Ms Robinson flew back to the UK last Wednesday (13 July) and was immediately taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where she was told by doctors she has stage four cancer which has spread to other parts of her brain.
She said: “They’ve said it’s not treatable, and it’s aggressive stage four – it has spread. However, it can be minimised with treatment plans, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.”
She added: “I just feel so frustrated. I’m a 44-year-old, and my life has changed in three weeks.
“Initially I thought, ‘This is a bit OTT. Why do I need to go to another hospital for?’ I definitely didn’t think for one minute that it would be cancer. But last night I was told that the tumour was stage four, untreatable.”
The mum-of-two has now set up a Just Giving page to try and raise funds to cover her crushing medical bills and has already received more than £20,000 in donations.
A spokesperson from AXA Partners said: “We are sorry to hear about Ms Robinson’s illness and are pleased that she is recovering well.
“Whilst we understand that this is a distressing situation, declaring previous medical history is extremely important when purchasing travel insurance, as not doing so can invalidate your policy.
“The initial question that Ms Robinson was asked at the start of the sales process is there to determine the best policy cover based on any previous medical history.
“Had Ms Robinson declared her previous medical history, she would have been offered an alternative insurance policy that would have better suited her needs and covered her for medical assistance related to this condition whilst abroad.”