CANCER campaigner Vicky Phelan has revealed that she has developed Bell's Palsy as a side effect of the experimental treatment she is undergoing in the US.
The mum of two from Limerick travelled to the US in January to take part in clinical trials with the new cancer drug M784.
Since starting the course, the periods between treatment have been “getting longer,” she confirmed in a weekly progress update on Wednesday, June 9.
She said: “I’ve had a rough week.
“On top of ending up back in hospital last Friday, I am getting IV fluids and I have unfortunately developed a new symptom which you can probably see.
“The left-hand side of my face is temporarily paralysed, I’ve got this thing called Bell's Palsy, my eye is not really blinking normally like the other one, which is making it very sore, very dry."
She added: “Tears are running down my face, my cheek is all numb, my lip is not moving like the other side of my mouth, though it’s a lot better than it was last Thursday when I woke up – I couldn’t even rinse my mouth, it was so bad, and my eye was tearing up like crazy.
“When I was talking, my mouth wasn’t even closing, so its drastically improved since last week, but it still has a way to go.”
“Luckily, it hasn’t got any worse, which is great.”
The symptoms of Bell's Palsy include weakness or paralysis in your facial muscles that can cause one side of your face to droop or stiffen.
It happens when the nerve that controls your facial muscles become inflamed, swollen, or compressed.
In most cases, the condition is temporary, and the facial muscles return to normal over several weeks or months.
Though, in some patients it can get worse, meaning they lose further mobility and eventually cannot close their eyes.
If this happens, Ms Phelan said her doctor will put her on steroids and she will have to come off the cancer drugs she is taking.
She said she was grateful that her US doctors were able to connect the Bell's Palsy to her treatment, and that she may not have been able to get the treatment she needs had she been diagnosed in Ireland.
Staying optimistic, she said that while it had been a tough week, what is “keeping her going” is that she knows she’s “going home in a little over four weeks” to see her family which she has been separated from for over five months.