A ballet dancer from Beckenham has told how she suffered 'agonising' headaches for more than a year before being given a life-changing diagnosis.

Elena Hardy had been a professional ballerina for two decades but the daily pain of the headaches left her struggling to do simple daily tasks.

She was diagnosed with a Meningioma brain tumour in May 2015.

Looking back however, the mum of two realised the symptoms were there for over a year before the diagnosis.

She said: "I had been having agonising headaches for over a year and, in all honesty, I didn’t do much about it apart from going to the GP complaining about regularly being in pain.

"Time went by, I carried on with life; I had been a professional ballet dancer for the last twenty years.

"However, in May 2015 my headaches progressively got much worse; to the point that I was always tired and I had to seriously cut down on my dancing.

"The constant battle with the pain left me emotionally drained and I couldn’t cope with even small daily tasks.”

On May bank holiday 2015 Elena woke up with a severe headache and started vomiting, and when she was rushed to A&E she was given the horrible news.

She said: "Those few words confirming my deepest fear felt like a bomb exploding. I instantly felt sick to my stomach as anyone would after receiving such bad news.”

Elena made it through her brain surgery in 2015 but is no longer a professional ballet dancer and now works as a pilates teacher.

She is now determined to raise awareness of the potentially life-saving recognition of symptoms, working with The Brain Tumour charity to spread the word.

She said: “When I became ill, I realised just how much I took my ‘body awareness’ for granted. My body was, and still is, my ‘tool’.

“I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to listen to your mind and your body; it might be very simple, obvious advice but again, far too often, we take it for granted.

“Don’t ignore your worries, your doubts, or your fears and, although not every ache and pain leads to something life threatening, you will never know unless you start investigating.”