A dad who suddenly lost control of his mouth before suffering a seizure during a bike ride discovered he had two life-threatening brain tumours.
Steve Ryder, from Stainland, West Yorkshire, was able to attract the attention of a passer-by who called an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital.
The 51-year-old was just a quarter of a mile up a major hill climb when his mouth began “opening and shutting on its own”, and on pulling over at the side of the road he collapsed.
After undergoing a CT scan at Calderdale Hospital in Halifax the stepdad-of-three said he was woken in the early hours by seven doctors in face masks who “unceremoniously” announced he had two brain tumours and two brain bleeds.
Due to coronavirus restrictions Steve’s wife Eileen was not able to be with him and he was left to process the news on his own.
The case was referred to Leeds Centre for Neurosciences at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) and after an anxious wait he was invited to meet a consultant neurosurgeon, who said that, fortunately, the tumours were operable.
Just over a week later last July, he had a seven-hour operation to remove the tumours.
The surgery came at a difficult time for the family with Eileen receiving a devastating call the same day to say her mum, 83, had died after a long battle with dementia.
Steve said: “As if the situation couldn’t have been more stressful for Eileen, as we waited for me to be taken into theatre, she received a phone call to say her mum had died.”
With his post-op scan images confirming that both tumours had been successfully removed, he was discharged from hospital on July 27.
However, the results from the histology revealed a shock diagnosis, Steve was not expecting.
He said: “The biopsy results showed I had stage 4 melanoma. It later transpired that I had received incorrect results from a histology report on a mole that was removed from my chest in May 2018.
“Having been told that the mole was non-cancerous, it was re-analysed and cancerous melanoma cells were, in fact, discovered. It was very difficult news to digest.”
In September 2020, Steve began a course of immunotherapy.
This involved the drugs Opdivo (Nivolumab) and Yervoy (Ipilimumab), which were administered intravenously four times, with a three-week gap in between each treatment.
The gruelling treatment caused noticeable side effects with Steve experiencing itchy skin and he soon became diagnosed with hepatitis.
He added: “My pituitary gland had also been impacted and my body had stopped producing cortisol, so I was given hydrocortisone tablets. My thyroid started malfunctioning, so I was prescribed thyroxine as well.
“All of this, combined with the steroids I was on, amounted to a real cocktail of drugs to try to keep me well.”
Steve’s latest MRI scan earlier this month revealed the tumours have not returned.
However, he has suffered two more seizures and is living in constant fear that he could collapse at any moment.
After a devastating few months, Steve, who works in IT for Lloyds Banking Group, admits his outlook on life has changed massively.
He set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook for Brain Tumour Research which amassed hundreds of pounds.
He said: “I’ve learned to live a lot more, as best you can during lockdown, and not to put things off. I advise others to do the same, as you never know what is around the corner.”