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14 Feb

That morning, she was understandably nervous, and further unsettled by some minor issues.

'I was late for the anaesthetic room, then someone lent on a switch and the whole room was plunged into darkness and my nerve went.' After the operation was cancelled, Sarah was advised to find a clinical psychologist.

'I'm not scared of doctors, surgery or hospitals; it's being unconscious.' Sarah was diagnosed with a brain tumour in December 2005, after she collapsed getting out of bed.

Even though she knew her brain tumour was on the verge of becoming inoperable and surgery was her last hope, she found herself begging the anaesthetist to delay.

These patients are often so terrified they cannot see any benefits from surgery, and sometimes their terror is so extreme they will delay or refuse operations that could save their lives.

'Phobias about medical treatment are incredibly common,' says Dr Lucy Atcheson, psychologist and author of Anxiety Attacks.

'In fact, the scan revealed a bony growth inside my skull.

The consultant said it wasn't a tumour, but referred me on to a neurologist.