Emily’s Story

France

My name is Emily. I’m currently 21 years old and in 2012, I had horrible news given to me.

It was the start on my final year of A levels in September 2011. I was 18, struggling with typical teenage problems along with stress from my studies. However, I began to change.. And this wasn’t a normal change. I started to become unusually emotional and mentally unstable. I was taken to my GP who said I was suffering from depression, placing me on anti depressant tablets and sending me for counselling. These did not work, but as I believed I was depressed, I didn’t understand why.

My personality took a turn for the worse at the start on 2012. I started to lose my friends and my family thought I was becoming (in their words) a nut case. I also suffered from chronic headaches that my GP said was due to migraines/stress/sinus infection. However, in May 2012 I noticed something in my eyesight that would not disappear. Thinking my contact lenses had cut my eye. I visited my opticians who found a burst blood vessel at the back of my eye. Straight to an eye hospital on a Friday evening wasn’t great news for my parents. I was transferred to Guys and St Thomas hospital for further tests throughout the following week. An MRI scan was booked but I still thought it was my eyes that were the problem. Two hours later from the scan, I was given two life changing words that horrified me.

Brain Tumour’

Two weeks that followed that was a blur. Straight into Queens Square hospital, two surgeries while unable to take my A levels as I was diagnosed two weeks before exams were to begin. I felt distraught, unable to understand how this happened and taken away from everything I once knew. The worst part was on my discharge date, my doctor approached me and informed me I would need further treatment as the risk of the tumour returning was high.

I deferred my uni place for 6 months to complete 5 1/2 weeks of radiotherapy. I have been in remission since December 2012. However, I will sadly never hear the words I would give everything to be told,

‘The tumour won’t ever return’.

I still feel uncomfortable when others tell me of the cancer they experienced when I had a brain tumour, but the experience and feelings are still quite similar. I feared for my life, I lost a lot of weight from radiotherapy, became very fatigued and felt isolated from my friends. My school didn’t support me, stopped me telling anyone in case they needed therapy so close to their exams.

However, Teens Unite have helped me feel better about myself. I feel more confident in talking to others, not necessarily about illnesses but just general chatting. I have really enjoyed the opportunities I have been given. Beauty days, tickets to gigs, photography day, and I even went to France with a group of teens for a week which the best part was real rock climbing, not inside ones!

I still find it difficult to feel like myself, especially near scan dates as I  am always scared that the news won’t be good. But I continue on, pushing myself through everything I can to get back to normality, whatever that is haha.