Giant Cell Astrocytoma 

My Journey - Being Treated Differently

I lost my sight when I was 11 years old due to a brain tumour after a number of operations and revisions of shunts. In the three years that followed I was left with a number of other difficulties including weakness on one side which is still a regular occurrence. What a life changing experience ...but still going strong. Over the years I have found different coping strategies which have helped me a great deal.

I was in a mainstream school but later, after my first set of surgeries, I had to attend a special needs school as life was a bit topsy turvey. I was unable to cope with a full week of travelling and school. There was a time of home tuition which helped me a great deal but I felt alone and was longing to get back to school but this couldn’t be rushed.

I have used many strategies to help me cope. One of the main strategies I have used is Tai Chi. I was always interested in martial arts before I had surgery. I first thought this would be impossible until I was introduced to a youth centre. There I had the opportunity of mixing with other children with disabilities but still the staff had to have training on how to manage me. Of course these children had not been though the difficulties that I had been through but they had an understanding of what it’s like to have a disability no matter when it occurred and the experience of being treated differently.

We got to do different activities some of which were provided by different companies. We were given the opportunity to take up a Tai Chi taster session part of “Give It A Go programme” with our families. I enjoyed it very much as I have always wanted to do a form of martial arts. I used to do this before my brain tumour. I decided to join a regular Saturday class. I joined the Tai Chi flow project and enjoyed it very much. Tai Chi has helped me a great deal with my balance as well as strengthening my legs; I feel my confidence has also improved. I am continuously improving my Tai Chi learning and my health and fitness level.  

Over the years I have taken part in a number of demonstrations for the club promoting Tai Chi to people of all ages and disabilities. Tai Chi has also helped with my anxiety. I can’t recommend it enough!      

Life is a journey. You never know where it can take you but stay strong and never give up would be my message.