I was diagnosed with a brain tumour 21 days after my 17th birthday. I’d been having really bad headaches for more than six months. At first, I saw a nurse. Then I went to the GP lots of times and to start with he said that it was probably my posture, which I thought was silly. He then suggested I tried anti-depressants. I have no clue why he offered me them and I turned them down. I saw another GP, but I didn’t think I was being taken seriously.
My mum suggested that I get an eye test to see if I was getting headaches because I was straining my eyes. The optician spotted something was wrong straight away and referred me to my local hospital, where they discovered the tumour.
I have blocked out that time completely, but I know that my mum was really upset. Looking back, she probably saved my life by insisting I went for an eye test. We wouldn’t have discovered it without that; the GP wasn’t listening.
You’ve got to keep pushing. You feel so silly – like it’s just a headache. But you know your own body and you know when it’s not right. Even if someone else is telling you it’s fine, when it doesn’t feel right you can’t stop pushing.
The operation at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham took seven hours and I was in intensive care for two weeks afterwards. After the operation, I was transferred to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit for my radiotherapy and chemo.
At first, I was too scared to take part in the activities the Teenage Cancer Trust Youth Support Coordinators organised. But they persisted and told me that I would enjoy it and make friends. They were right. I soon had a group of people who I could talk to about anything that was bothering me. That was so important as I had dropped out of a college course and not many friends kept in contact.
My friends had always told me that I was a drama queen, so during the treatment I wondered if I was making a bigger deal out of things. Talking to the other people on the unit made me realise that it was a big deal and that they were feeling the same side effects as me. Chatting to them was really easy – it was as though we had known each other our whole lives.