Britain’s Got Talent first ever winner, Paul Potts, whose incredible story was made into a film starring James Corden titled One Chance, has lived a life where “it felt like fate had it in for me”. After a particularly nasty accident, Potts discovered his most serious problem. Speaking with The Mirror, Potts recalled his health complication: “For a couple of weeks, I’d been walking around with stomach pain so bad it was causing me to limp. My doctor didn’t think it was appendicitis but referred me to hospital to rule it out. After smelling my breath, the specialist said it could knock out a donkey and I was told it was appendicitis and that my appendix had burst. If they hadn’t operated immediately, I could have contracted peritonitis, which can lead to septicaemia, and I could have died.
“I ended up back in hospital on New Year’s Eve with complications. I was being sick, so had a CT scan and heard the doctor mutter the words, ‘tumour’, and, ‘malignant’, and began to think, ‘Oh my God, have I got a tumour or cancer?’
“They’d discovered this massive 29cm-long tumour on my adrenal gland about 1in away from my liver. Initially they weren’t sure whether it was malignant, so I had no idea if it was terminal.
“They told me they’d have to thread the tumour through my vocal chords and if they’d got that wrong by a millimetre and scratched the chords, my voice would have been ruined.
The operation in March 2003 lasted about seven hours and they had to cut a huge fold through my chest and pull it back like a page to operate, so I’ve still got an enormous scar.”
The tumour turned out not to be cancerous but Paul also told how he was knocked off his bike shortly afterwards: “At this point, I felt like fate had it in for
me and explained that despite his health worries, he was trying not to get stressed about his condition, Cushing’s disease, which had caused the tumour to grow.”
Cushing’s disease is a condition caused by having too much of a hormone called cortisol in the body.
The NHS explained: “Cushing’s syndrome is uncommon. It mostly affects people who have been taking steroid medicine, especially steroid tablets for a long time.
“Very rarely, it can be caused by the body producing too much cortisol. This is usually the result of a growth or tumour.”
Symptoms of Cushing’s disease include weight gain, obesity, purple stretch marks on the breasts, arms, abdomen, and thighs, thinning skin that bruises easily, acne, fatigue, muscle weakness, high blood pressure, anxiety, irritability, and bone loss. Cushing syndrome can have many different causes.
The diagnosis is made based on abnormal cortisol levels in the body.
“There’s always a chance the tumour may return as they don’t know why it grew in the first place and they don’t know where it would go if it came back.
“There’s not a lot I can do to minimise the risk and if it happens, it happens. If you worry about things you’re more likely to get them, so there’s no point getting stressed about it,” said Potts.
If you suspect you or someone you know may have Cushing’s disease speak with your GP who will perform a physical examination and review the symptoms.
A laboratory test may also be ordered. If one is diagnosed with the condition, a GP will determine the cause of the excess cortisol production.