Teenager, 19, who thought her watery eye was caused by make-up discovers it is CANCER tumour behind her nose
22:38 GMT, 1 May 2012
When Tasha Jilka began suffering from a watery left eye, she put the strange symptom down to her make-up or the seasonal weather.
But far from being an innocuous allergic reaction to cosmetics, the teenager's bizarre ailment was one which changed her life forever, as she was later diagnosed with cancer.
The 19-year-old's watery eye was caused by a rare cancer tumour called olfactory neuroblastoma at the back of her nose which left doctors eventually having to rebuild her whole face.
Rebuilding her life: Tasha Jilka has had extensive surgery to rebuild her face following the shock discovery of a cancer tumour behind her nose
Tasha's rare diagnosis was eventually made a year after she first suffered the watery eye, having been missed by doctors and opticians.
Her ordeal began in May 2008, when, aged 16, her symptoms began.
Tasha, from Leicester, said: 'My left eye was very watery but I just put it down to make-up. It kept getting worse and I decided to go to my GP.
'It was put down to a cold and the weather and I was told it would go by itself.
'I went back a few times when it didn’t get better and was referred to an optician, but they couldn’t find anything either.'
Four months later, her eye had got worse and she was referred to a Cambridgeshire hospital, as she was living near there at the time.
Tasha had an operation to clear a blocked tear duct – but it still did not solve her problems.
In 2009, when she and her family moved to Leicester, she again went to her doctor and was referred to specialists at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Tasha said: 'I had a similar eye test but this time doctors also looked up my nose and could see a lump.'
A biopsy was taken and a short time later, Tasha’s cancer was diagnosed.
Rare: Olfactory neuroblastoma is a form of cancer which affects the superior recess of the nasal cavity (stock picture)
She said: 'When I was told it was as if they were talking about someone else. I knew it was serious.
'I thought it was a little lump in my face but the news began to sink in.'
In May 2010 Tasha had surgery to remove the tumour.
It was so severe that surgeons had to reconstruct her nose and she is still having problems with the vision in one eye.
She has had two major operations, one to remove the tumour and a second to rebuild her nose.
It has also meant the shape of her face has changed.
Tasha said: 'I am very strong and I am pulling through, but it is very hard.
'I feel if I had been diagnosed earlier and known more about the symptoms, I might not have had to have two such major operations.
'I have lost a lot of feeling in my face and my sense of smell.'
Tasha is now backing a campaign by charity the Teenage Cancer Trust to raise awareness of cancer in young people.