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Introduction

 

When a person is diagnosed with having a brain tumour, it is a natural assumption to fear the worst, thinking that life is virtually over. I was only eight years old when my tumour was discovered, and I was not particularly aware of its seriousness.  But it was my parents and family who suffered the most, hurling their lives into turmoil.

 

Back in the 1970s technology was not as advanced as it is today, and a full four and a half hour operation was necessary for me. I was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London as an emergency case, because it was detected that I would only remain alive for a maximum of two weeks if it was not removed. I was that close to death. It was also horrifying to discover that, after the operation, I was a complete invalid with no hair and my body full of different tubes, something which I am obviously unable to remember. Recovery from such a serious operation is not immediate, and, in my opinion, it depends upon your own determination and willpower to make your life as successful as possible. It took me over twenty years to be able to lead as normal life as possible. But I had a stubborn attitude towards remaining alive and was absolutely determined that I was going to lead that normal life that I so desperately craved. Since the discovery of the tumour, I have struggled extremely hard with everything which life has put before me, which has not been easy, even aspects that others take for granted. Everything which I choose to do requires twice the effort even to this day, as my body is not strong. But I think that my achievements over the last 36 years or so give me a sense of pride within myself.

I have had the privilege of my story being printed in a few newspapers of Wales, as well as a magazine, and I have also appeared on a television programme for H.T.V. Wales. This type of publicity gave me differing responses from people wanting to know more about my life, and I would like to think that my experiences will encourage others never to give up hope in their battle to survive. More recently, my story was printed in the local Glamorgan Gem newspaper giving me positive feedback, and that is the reason why I chose to write this book. I am now privileged to have my own column in the newspaper, which has given me great delight to research and write on a subject that is close to my heart - ‘Ghostly Tales’ from around Bridgend County and the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

My autobiography highlights how I have fought from being helpless; to taking back my life as much as is humanly possible. It is not full of facts concerning serious illnesses, but gives my own account of how I have dealt with life on the whole. I am also not completely afraid of operations or hospital, because it is unfortunate that they will always be part of my life. But, despite my difficulties, both past and present, I am not a depressive person, and tackle life with enthusiasm. In recent times I have avidly watched television programmes relating to the 1970s in the hope of reviving my memory about events that took place during that fateful decade in my life. Unfortunately, it is only the large strikes of 1979 where hospital staff ‘walked out’ that gives me an insight into those times. I recognised the hospital frontage and the thinly striped red and white uniforms worn by the nurses of the time. This memory touched me with sadness, as well as elation because I could finally recall something from the decade.

In this book I also focus upon people’s reactions towards me and my family, which was not always that of admiration. I have also discovered that there are many people who look upon me with disbelief because I do not look or act abnormally, so my aim is to give them knowledge of my fight for life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Today I am 40 plus 5, and enjoying life to the full, and it is the thought of Dylan Thomas’ mathematical idea of disguising ones’ age which does make me feel youthful to a certain degree. But judging by my history of illness, it is a miracle that I have reached such an age, and that I am able to lead such an ordinary life. It may seem premature to be writing an autobiography, but after such a long battle to survive, it is only now that I seem to be more in control of events surrounding my life as it is today.

 

Since the operation my life has been difficult, as recovery took me over 30 years, something which will never be complete. But I had a great determination, as well as power of the mind, and was desperate to reach my goal of leading as normal a life as possible. Part of my success is down to my hobbies and overall outlook, and I would say that these were, and still are, vital therapies for me, which is why I put emphasis on them throughout my autobiography. I feel that it is important to focus your life around the things that you enjoy doing, despite the difficulties around you, as depression and the urge to surrender could take over your mind.

 

The personality that I had before the tumour has returned to a certain extent, although I have hardened towards people’s reactions towards me and their cruel remarks in general. I am a talkative person with lots of compassion, and am deeply empathetic towards other people’s hardship and tragedies. It is in my nature to care about my friends and family, and I would never intend to hurt or humiliate them in any way, as I know how it feels to be ridiculed and made to feel incompetent. I also detest arguments as I feel that life is too short to quarrel. At one stage I had the privilege of writing an ‘agony aunt’ column for a local newspaper, as I found it gratifying to be able to help people with their problems. I have now published my own books about the history and ghost stories of Porthcawl, which I achieved as a tribute to my mother, who sadly passed away in May 2008 through cancer. I also write a new column for the Glamorgan Gem entitled ‘Ghostly Tales’.

 

There seems to be no direct explanation how cancer occurs, but difficulty at birth was believed to be the cause of my tumour. At the age of 4, I contracted viral pneumonia, and my mother distinctly remembered that my health showed signs of deterioration around that time. My left lung collapsed, and as a result I was admitted into Bridgend General Hospital in a critical condition, and placed into an oxygen tent to help with my breathing. It was an agonising 36 hours for my parents, as I was clinging to life by a thread, but to their relief, I pulled through in a satisfactory way. Six weeks later I returned to the hospital for a check-up, and my blood pressure showed abnormally high readings. But that was overlooked, as the doctors believed that I was afraid of being placed back in the oxygen tent, which had given me the feeling of being trapped.

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