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Russell Watson is best known for his operatic vocals, which propelled him into the spotlight during the 2000s. The opera singer recently assumed an unexpected role in the public psyche – providing relief during lockdown. Russell was one of the contestants taking part in this year’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!. The star, who was eliminated from the ITV show on Tuesday, has opened up about his experience on the show, recalling how a particular trial evoked memories of his brain tumour treatment.
The opera singer, who has survived two pituitary tumours, said he became “panicky” upon being strapped to the rotating machine during the Rancid Rotisserie trial, which repeatedly dunked him into cold gunge as he attempted to correctly answer trivia questions.
Russell has revealed he almost backed out of the challenge because the contraption reminded him of the MRI scanner used during his brain tumour treatment.
Despite his initial apprehension, the opera singer managed to overcome his nerves to complete the challenge.
Speaking after his departure, he said: “I was petrified as well because I am quite claustrophobic and it reminded me a little bit of the MRI scanner that I have been in so I was a bit panicky before.
“When they were strapping me in I was lying there and they started putting these straps around, and I am lying there thinking, ‘I actually don’t want to do this.’
“But I got to the point where I said, ‘No, we are in here now so might as well go for it.”‘
The singer said he had turned down the chance to appear on the programme six times because he feared he would not be able to keep up his complex medication regime.
He said: “I have been asked to do it six times and I have always said no.
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“I thought, I don’t think it is something I would be able to do certainly with my daily regime of drugs and steroids that I have to take after the tumour, because I don’t produce hormones naturally.
“One of the tablets which is Hydrocortisone – basically if I didn’t take that for 48 hours, I would be dead in a coma.
“They are the type of things I was thinking. But when I got in there slowly started thinking, ‘I can do this and I can get on with my life.”‘
When was Russell diagnosed with a brain tumour?
In 2005, Russell began having headaches and was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma the size of two golf balls, and underwent a five-hour operation to have it removed.
Two years later he suddenly became incapacitated while recording his album Outside In and doctors discovered a regrowth, which was also successfully removed.
Brain tumour symptoms – what to look for
A brain tumour is a growth of cells in the brain that multiplies in an abnormal, uncontrollable way.
According to the NHS, the symptoms of a brain tumour vary depending on the exact part of the brain affected.
Common symptoms include:
- Seizures (fits)
- Persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness
- mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
- Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
- Vision or speech problems.
“Sometimes you may not have any symptoms to begin with, or they may develop very slowly over time,” explains the NHS.
According to the health body, you should see a GP if you have these types of symptoms, particularly if you have a headache that feels different from the type of headache you usually get, or if headaches are getting worse.
“You may not have a brain tumour, but these types of symptoms should be checked,” it adds.
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