Laura Bailey takes part in creative writing sessions at her local Headway group. Here, she shares her story of never giving up on her dreams.
"I developed an Astra Cytomel brain tumour, wrapped round my brain stem, aged five and was treated with 3 weeks of radio therapy at The Christie hospital. I was also on steroids, had a shunt implanted (which I still have) and was not expected to survive. But, despite what my Doctors expected, I pulled through.
"After recovering, I was very badly bullied in high school. So much so that I had to be home educated during years ten and eleven. This left me isolated and scared of anyone my own age and terrified of people in general. I was deaf by the age of seventeen due to the radiotherapy treatment for my tumour, which didn’t help my confidence. I hardly ever left the house except to go to college and even there I had no friends and couldn’t talk to anyone.
"My mum had been volunteering at our local CRUK charity shop since I was six and suggested that I should start volunteering there during my gap year. Despite being very scared of the idea I agreed.
This turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. Every single member of staff, of whom there were approximately fifty in total, welcomed me with open arms. I was not used to people outside my family being kind to me, but these lovely individuals very soon became my second family.
"I had my first epileptic fit on my 21st birthday. The epilepsy knocked my confidence again, but not enough to stop me completing my 2:1 combined honours degree in “The Advanced Study of Early Years and Disability Studies’ after five years. I was also awarded the Liverpool University 2010 award for ‘The student who made the most effort’.
"When I was 29 I lost some thigh muscle on my right leg due to skin cancer. It seemed incredibly unfair after everything I had already been through but the cancer wasn’t going to stop me this time either.
"After graduating I was unable to work full-time due to the side effects of a cocktail of medication and my disabilities. Instead, I volunteered for 6 years for my local 'Incredible Edible' gardening group in Prestwich.
"I have a dream to become a children’s picture book author, and this year I will be starting a degree with the OU in illustration to hopefully enable me to draw the pictures too. I won’t let the Brain Tumour stop me!"
Friends of Headway Individual membership Join/Renew