From being diagnosed with serious illness three years ago, Dublin mother Pamela Tully (40) has since completed her Masters degree and released four new solo singles
How’s this for a fightback from diagnosis of a serious illness? A woman from Kilnamanagh who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2020, is now gearing up to launch her fourth solo single and to graduate from her master’s with first-class honours.
Pamela Tully (40), who is married to Michael Rudd and has one daughter Alix (age 4), was diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumour following a visit to her GP complaining of headaches. In her wildest dreams, she never expected that this decision would permanently alter the trajectory of her life.
“We were in the middle of Covid and, like everyone else, we were juggling crèches being closed and trying to work from home,”” said Pamela.
“My day job is in the human resources department of a telecommunications company and I was halfway through my HR management master’s, which I was doing at night.
“I was also gigging in a wedding band and was dealing with couples around the country who were moving their dates.
“The headaches weren’t too major or debilitating, and I just put them down to stress and having a one-year-old but I decided to see my GP, who sent me for an MRI where the meningioma showed up.”
Pamela thought they we were just ruling something more sinister out, but was soon referred to Mr Stephen MacNally in Beaumont.
“Thankfully, we caught it early enough and the tumour was monitored through scans initially. In June, it was about the size of a grape but by November, it had doubled in size,” she said.
She successfully underwent a craniotomy to remove the tumour, which was graded as a non-cancerous type 2 meningioma.
However, there is a higher recurrence rate associated with this diagnosis, which means that she will be monitored every six months.
The singer-songwriter described recovery as more challenging than the surgery itself.
“It was a traumatic time to say the least. I suffered seizures for approximately a month after the surgery which took a while for medication to get under control. This left me unable to drive for a year and I am now on anti-seizure meds for life,” said Pamela.
“The less rational part of myself felt like I had walked into Beaumont feeling well and I walked out worse but I know it had to come out, the tumour was only going to grow larger.
“I was six months out of work after the surgery, which again, I was really naive about following a major surgery. I had thought I would be back to work in a month.
“It then took me another six months of ramping back on, where I was basically doing two days a week and I was doing two hours at the laptop.
“The thing about having such invasive surgery is that, while I was well from a surgical standpoint, the neurological pathways have been interrupted and it takes a very long time for your brain to heal.
“I did find the recovery very tough. It probably took close to two years, and lots of counselling, before I actually felt back to normal again.”
Pamela, who is sharing her story as partof International Brain Tumour Awareness Week, which runs until this Saturday ( Nov 4), says her first passion is her family and her second is music. She attributes her recovery, which she says was one of the most horrible periods of her life, to finding her bravery.
“Since the diagnosis, I’ve managed to get a promotion in work, finish my HR Masters, start my singer-songwriting journey and release three singles, with a fourth, Paranoid, releasing at midnight on Friday.
“My life has permanently changed, I will forever be worried about something coming back and I’m in the system for life now but I feel I’m turning it into something else. My diagnosis has taught me that the only person stopping you is yourself.
“We only get one shot at this life, so do the things that make you happy and do the things that you love to do. I was putting certain things off for so long that I was like, if I don’t do this now, I’m going to regret it forever.
“This has absolutely been a catalyst for my song writing; it pushed me into doing what I really love. I have a daughter and, when she’s grown up, I want her to see that mummy did it. I did it and she can do anything as well.”