Woman’s Bali ‘travel bug’ turns out to be brain cancer

A Melbourne woman who was struck down on a Bali holiday by what she thought was a “travel bug” instead has just been given 18 months to live by doctors.

Tijen Kuyruk, 25, assumed she had just caught a virus when she began experiencing extreme headaches while in Bali in February 2019.

But the pain in her head continued when she got back to Australia and returned to work as a travel agent, suffering a seizure that left her “shaking for minutes” on her first day back.

“I literally couldn’t listen to people, I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t talk – it was just the weirdest day for me,” Ms Kuyruk told 7news.com.au.

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Ms Kuyruk, then 23, was rushed to hospital where her symptoms were blamed on stress, however, after getting a second opinion from her GP she went for an MRI.

The scan revealed a massive tumour on her brain and she was diagnosed with a grade two astrocytoma.

However the tumour has since progressed and developed into stage four glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer for which she has been given just 18 months left to live.

Ms Kuyruk underwent surgery to try to remove the cancer, however, doctors were only able to take out a cyst, not the tumour.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment has also been unsuccessful in stopping the cancer’s spread.

Ms Kuyruk hopes now lie in overseas treatment, with her cousin Esma Ozdemir starting a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses so she can have more surgery to hopefully remove the tumour.

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The fundraiser has now raised more than $100,000, with the expected cost of the overseas treatments being up to $300,000.

“With everyone’s donations I’m able to see a doctor who can take more of my tumour out and allow me to stay surgery-free for longer,” Ms Kuyruk wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“If our donations become high enough I would also try hyperthermia and immunotherapy treatments overseas.”

Ms Kuyruk has had to defer her university degree in environmental science and is unable to work because of her headaches and exhaustion.

However she has had reason to celebrate – her boyfriend of 18 months proposed to her during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Ms Kuyruk told Daily Mail Australia her cancer had been “an awakening that life really is too short – you should enjoy every single moment of it”.

“Don’t take family and friends for granted and if you are ever able try and help whoever you can, even if it means a $2 charity donation,” she said.

“And always listen to your body. It usually tells you when something isn’t right so do the right thing and get checked.”

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