Vicki Perez first noticed she was gaining weight back in October 2015 – and in less than 12 months she had ballooned from 9st 4lbs to 12st 4lbs.
Her face began to bloat and her feet swelled so large that she couldn’t even wear shoes.
The shocked mum-of-one learnt she had Cushing’s disease, which is caused by high cortisol levels.
But it wasn’t until last January that she found out it was due to a deadly tumour on her pituitary gland.
After two surgeries to have the tumour removed, Vicki has finally began to recover and is sharing her story to raise awareness.
Vicki, who is currently studying to become a dental hygienist in Florida, said: “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 realising I was causing damage.”
In February 2016, she noticed strange rashes on her hands and body and was rushed to hospital in anaphylactic shock.
Vicki said: “When I saw the rashes I thought it was an allergy but the next day I work up and I couldn’t breathe.”
Despite numerous tests, medics continued to deny there was anything wrong.
The fed-up mum decided to see a Cushing Disease specialist at The University of Alabama.
She said: “I took my MRI and CT scan and they saw the tumour was in my brain.
“My hospital had completely mis-read it.”
After further tests, doctors were able to confirm it was a brain tumour.
She said: “I’m not sure how long I had the tumour. I thought I was going to die.”
After an initial surgery to remove the tumour on the left of her pituitary in June, and a second op to remove a second tumour in July, Vicki’s health began to improve.
She said: “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 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.”
The road to recovery has been long and after eight months, Vicki still has a way to go.
But now her weight is down to 10st 10lbs and she is able to wear shoes and her normal clothes again.
She said: “It’s a slow process.
“I am not 100% 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.”
Vicki added: “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.”