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Therese Coffey: Ex-cabinet minister says she came ‘close to dying’ after stress triggered brain abscess | Politics News

Former cabinet minister Therese Coffey has revealed how she came “close to dying” after an abscess was discovered in her brain.

Ms Coffey, who has served in the cabinet in a number of roles, attributed the abscess – a pus-filled swelling in the brain caused by a bacterial infection – to the stress of being a minister.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Ms Coffey, 52, said she “burnt the candle at both ends” while serving as environment minister in 2018.

The Tory MP, who served as health secretary under the brief tenure of Liz Truss, began to notice she was feeling ill during a debate in that year, saying that while she wasn’t slurring her words, she just “wasn’t quite myself”.

She recalled how during a vote, she couldn’t remember exactly which flat she lived in and later began experiencing hallucinations.

It was only when her sister, Clare, phoned the hospital that Ms Coffey went in for a scan, which discovered the abscess on her brain.

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“By now I was starting to slur my words and repeat myself,” she told the newspaper. “She said she had never known me the way I was, and they told me to go straight in.”

She revealed how in the aftermath of the surgery, she had to work on rebuilding her memory and that she sometimes forgets the words for things.

“I couldn’t remember the words for certain things,” she said.

“I can remember thinking… I can’t remember what these thing are. It was slippers, and it still happens now. It’s like my brain had locked itself and then if I said a word again, it would come back again.”

Ms Coffey has served in various cabinet roles since 2019 but this year she resigned from her role as environment secretary and was replaced by Steve Barclay in Rishi Sunak’s most recent reshuffle.

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Ms Coffey said that while she normally enjoys “pressure”, she realised that she “just overdid it and burnt the candle at both ends”.

Now she says she sometimes takes a “power nap” to “recharge the batteries”.

She added: “I do value life more now than ever.

“I came close to dying, and I think looking back that if my sister hadn’t phoned St Thomas’ [Hospital] and they hadn’t done that scan, I probably would have been dead in a matter of days.

“It gives you a different outlook on life and it’s not me trying to be a depressive Catholic on this, but the truth is this could all stop tomorrow.”

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