GET SUPPORT GET CONNECTED Your Voices Annie What cancer were you diagnosed with? brain tumour What age were you diagnosed? 32 What has helped you to thrive? The knowledge that I have an incredible family, amazing friends and work colleagues who have supported me and offered me guidance whenever I’ve needed it. I made a bucket list and a promise to myself to travel more whenever I could. Back in 2017, I travelled to Australia to spend Christmas and New Year with a friend. It was life-changing and put a lot of things into perspective for me. In 2018, I visited the Amalfi coast in Italy and went island-hopping around Greece in 2019. Finding Trekstock and completing the Renew Programme in 2019 was by far my biggest personal accomplishment. I’m a complete gymaphobe and I spent more time worrying about what other people thought of me than focussing on myself and my achievements. My trainer Steven put me at ease and reassured me at every new challenge he threw my way. I have gained confidence to try new things and to not be afraid if I get it wrong. Annie's Story I was suffering with migraines and headaches 6 months before I was finally diagnosed with a brain tumour. During that time, I got progressively worse, constantly taking time off work, losing balance, tinnitus and dizziness, plus double vision, loss of feeling in my right hand, leg and foot. The most basic everyday things were becoming more difficult. I knew something serious was wrong with me but I couldn’t find anyone to ‘join the dots’. After an MRI, my tumour was found; it was the size of a small avocado and had been growing gradually over 5 years. Things started to make sense; all the signs and symptoms were there. I was relieved. After my craniotomy just 2 weeks later, I was diagnosed with Grade 4 Glioblastoma multiforme in November 2016 and within 24 hours, I was admitted back into hospital with excess fluid on my brain. I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and fitted with a shunt. This pushed back the beginning of my treatment which didn’t start until January 2017 but it meant I could enjoy Christmas and New Years with my family and new-born niece. Within a year, I felt the best I had in a very long time, despite going through radiotherapy, a 2mm growth after 6 months and having continued chemotherapy at home. In 2018, I decided to retire from my job as a primary school teacher. It was the hardest decision I have had to make and not one I took lightly. I had the support of my oncologist and all involved at my school. Unfortunately for me, the experience was highly stressful and drawn-out but, on the upside, I made the right choice for myself and now I can continue my life without worrying about returning to work. Fast forward to 2020 and I’m 1 year post-treatment after completing 12 cycles of chemotherapy on my treatment plan in March 2019. Losing my chemo crutch took me a long time to adjust to and to just rely on myself. My MRI’s have been stable for 2 years and, God-willing, they will continue to be. I have so much to be thankful for, so much to look forward to, and many more memories to make. I’ve met some incredible people, with highs and lows along the way. I’m making the most of life and I now have a “carpe diem” attitude.