POST 1: Life with a Brain Tumour

Anna SwabeyHi I am Anna Louise Swabey, I am 23 years old and I have recently been diagnosed with a brain tumour. (It still feels bizarre when I write that down or say it out loud.)

I have decided to start writing about my ‘brain tumour journey’, in the form of this blog “Inside My Head”.

Why start a blog?

By writing this blog I hope to achieve 4 things:

  1. On a selfish level, I am hoping that expressing my thoughts and feelings during this difficult time will be a good coping mechanism for me.
  2. I want to support others who may be experiencing a similar battle. Even if one person reads one blog post and can relate to how I am feeling, and it makes them feel like they are not alone, I will view that as a success.
  3. I want to raise awareness of Brain Tumours themselves. Before I was diagnosed, I knew absolutely nothing about the illness. Now, after further research, I have discovered that brain tumours kill more people under the age of 40 than any other cancer. It is, however, unfortunate to say that even though this is such a life destroying cancer, and we need to do soooooo much more research, it only receives 1% of national cancer research funding. This NEEDS to change!
  4. I want to raise as much money as possible for brain tumour research charities, in the hope that this may help, not only my prognosis, but other people’s, and, so that in the future, other people do not have to experience this journey at all.

Who was/Who is/ Who will be Anna Swabey?

In this first post I would like to introduce myself a bit further… Who I was; who I am now; and who I want to be in the future.

Who I was:

  • Up until January 9th 2015, I was living a completely ‘normal’ life (although, if we are being honest, I don’t think anybody would have ever of described me as ‘normal’!)
  • 48ba208c971eda37c2e8b8e91e3287dfI studied Languages and European studies at the University of Portsmouth, and was delighted to graduate with a First Class Honours degree in 2013.
  • I have always been a very active person, and have a particular love for netball. My fondest memories from University involve the amazing times I shared with the girls from the University Netball Team.55f6baf1a555a3653db04ccbda1954be
  • Not only have I enjoyed playing sports, I am a keen spectator also. I am a MASSIVE Rugby Union fan, and had a season ticket for Leicester tigers since I was 8 years old. Living down in Portsmouth made it more difficult to get to matches, however the 3 hour drive was always worth it! My parents and I have travelled Europe supporting our team also. My football team is Stoke City, so all in all, when it comes to sport, I am a bit of a lad!
  • 10708f5c812d344dc0add3e16d6d7675That isn’t to say however that I am not a girly girl when it comes to fashion, make up, taking “selfies” etc….as I most definitely am!e7da2db8e2f1e5d32c4d18a2f5c128ba
  • I was a very sociable person, a bit of a chatterbox and friends often compared me to my comic idol, Miranda – tall, a bit clumsy, and always getting myself into awkward social situations!
  • I have always been very family orientated. I am very close to my parents, my sister, my brother, my niece and my four nephews. The only difficulty being, that as I chose to go to University in Portsmouth, the majority of my family live up in the North East of England.a85403fdf8def850e65d5867d543a62b
  • I have always been a big kid at heart, and I am obsessed with Disney. My Mum, Sister, my niece and two of my nephews and I went to Disneyland, Florida for two weeks last summer – WOW!

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  • I was always very ambitious, I always wanted to be successful, and I was determined I was going to have an amazing career. Throughout my life, I have been a perfectionist, never settled for being just average.

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  • Although leading a very, as I said, ‘normal’ life, the only thing looking back that could have had any possible significance to my current situation was when I was 14 years old. I started suffering from severe shooting pains/headaches in varying locations in my head. These pains would only last for about 15-30 seconds and then progress into a throbbing headache. As these became more regular, I went to the doctors and ended up having an MRI scan. This scan showed a tiny lesion/ shadow on my brain, however it was that small, that nothing more was done about it and these pains/headaches were put down to stress.
  • On the 9th January 2015 I had a seizure at home (gutted because I was getting ready to go to the pub!) and I was taken into hospital via an ambulance. When I was in hospital I suffered a further two seizures, I had a CT scan and an MRI scan over the weekend and this was when my life changed forever…

Who I am now:

  • I’m still Anna Louise Swabey, i’m still 23 years old, and I still have exactly the same passions and ambition as detailed above. I am still exactly the same person, however, unfortunately, after receiving my biopsy results on February 3rd 2015, I have been diagnosed with a Grade 3 Glioma, Anaplastic Astrocytoma Brain Tumour.
  • Due to the intrinsic nature of my brain tumour I was told from day one that the tumour is unfortunately inoperable, so I was just about coming to grips with the fact I would be living with it forever, regardless of what treatment could be offered. On receiving my biopsy results that day however, I was then told that it is a particularly aggressive type of tumour and also terminal, and I was given a time scale of months to a maximum of 3 years to live. No words can describe how hearing that news felt, however I will be writing a post to at least try and express my emotions that day and onwards regarding the prognosis.
  • I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive family and set of friends around me and I am now living with my family in the North East after having to leave my life in Portsmouth. Again taking the positives out this horrific situation, I am loving being able to see them every day, even though it is under these circumstances.
  • I have always been a ‘tough cookie’ and I am trying to remain as strong and positive as possible, but I certainly wouldn’t be in this positive frame of mind without the love of my nearest and dearest. It is true what they say, it is at times like these you realise how blessed you really are!
  • Now I am ready to give ‘Trev the tumour’ – yes that’s right we have named the bugger- a real good fight!
  • I have been banned from driving because of my seizures.
  • I am signed off sick from work and I am awaiting news of when my treatment can start.

Who I want to be:

  • I want to defy my prognosis, I WILL live till I am old, I WILL get married and I WILL have children and I WILL have the life I have always dreamt of! But, I am by no means naive, and I understand it’s going to be very tough and some compromises will no doubt have to be made.
  • I want to make a difference in the world and leave a mark. Now this issue is so close to my heart, I want to raise awareness about brain tumours and the devastating affects they can have on people’s lives.
  • I want to raise lots of money for brain tumour research charities to ensure that, in the future, nobody has to experience this awful disease and many more treatments are readily available and we can find a cure to save my life and many others alike.
  • I am hoping that this blog will be a good start!

Thank you for taking the time to read what I hope will be the start of many posts to come🙂

120 thoughts on “POST 1: Life with a Brain Tumour

  1. You are an amazing brave lady, an inspiration! I believe that positive thoughts and actions produce positive outcomes! Wishing you luck, love and health! Jane x


    1. Amazing young lady keep fighting and the love and support off your family will carry you through to knock Trev out and get rid off him …….. Wish you all the best off happiness and good luck …. Stay Strong xx


    2. Hi Anna, I saw you on Look North yesterday and just had to say hi. There are some striking similarities between us!

      I’m also a family-orientated, North Eastern, blonde 20-something, devoted to my one-year-old spaniel Sky, and I also have a brain tumour and brain tumour wordpress blog. I’m lucky that mine has been a low grade astrocytoma and operable (well, mostly, some of it had to stay), and I’m currently off work/prepping a phased return after my craniotomy in December.

      Even our blog posts themselves, I had to laugh at the similar topics we’ve covered. I also did a summary of the Petitions Committee’s report ( and I see you’ve named your tumour too ( Even our ‘About’ pages are crazily similar

      I just wanted to say you have an amazing attitude (this coming from someone who thinks the word ‘amazing’ is usually very overused – but you are worthy of the word!) and wish you good luck with everything, including the wedding.

      Angela Conway xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It will help you to cope writing a blog,when you are diagnosed with a terminal illness its must be very frightening. I had a diagnosis of breast cancer 3 years ago,luckily touchwood I am OK but like you I can remember thinking my life will never be the same again.I wish you all the best you sound like a very strong young woman,so pleased you have a loving family to support you x


  3. What an amazing young lady you are, wishing you lots of luck in your fight a head (no pun intended ) . Positivity is always great so keep it up xx lots of love to you and all your family xxx


    1. Hi Anna,
      I read your post this morning, you have amazing spirit and so positive. It made me chuckle at the part where you had named your tumour “Trev”. saying out aloud or writing things down I find gets it out of your head. Keep positive, it sound like you have a fantastic family who can all be positive influences.
      wishing you positive thought in your fight xxxx


      1. Hi Tracey, Thank you so much for your lovely message! I am definitely ready, with the support of my amazing family and friends, to give Trev a bloody good fight!!!
        Thank you once again🙂 xxx


  4. Look up Professor Ben Williams who had a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour. There was a fascinating article about him and him conventional and unconventional treatment in the Telegraph on 4/3/15.
    The very best of luck with all your treatment.xx


  5. Such sad news Anna for you and those who love you dearly. So remarkable you are writing a blog, I’m sure this will help other sufferers of brain tumours either melignant & benign, operable or terminal so very much! Let us all know how to support your fundraising & many thoughts are with you now and for your journey xx


  6. I just came across your blog. I’m absolutely overwhelmed by your positivity. You are wonderful!! It is not the length of the life we live, but the love we live within our lives that is important. I can already tell how wonderful you are, you are so brave and you have already touched the lives of many. Please don’t let the terminal status get you down; I’ve met too many People already who that has happened NOT to apply to (somehow). Life is strange,curious, and oh so wonderful. One minute you are told you are dieing but the next you are more alive than ever. Live, love and make your mark, but most of all be happy. You will leave your mark whatever happens, as will everyone. Thank you for your blog, I know it will help so many!! Yaaaay carry on and be happy! Everyone needs a bit of you in their lives🙂 xxx


  7. Wow… What an an inspirational young woman you are… Your new journey has just begun.. I believe it will take you to places you never thought possible and along the way meet people who will shape your future who will love and support you… And be with you in all you do..May your journey be blessed with rainbows and butterflies… Here’s to You Anna Louise… Carpe Diem x


  8. Hi Anna

    You are such an inspiration to all of us, I just want to say thanks for sharing your journey. Keep strong hun.



  9. Dear Anna,

    We do not know each other and I doubt we ever will. But even though we did not party together, laughed together or cried together. I want you to know this:

    I love you!

    Stay strong and never give up!

    I hope your dreams come true and you’ll get married and have kids.

    With warmth,


  10. A subject so very close to my heart. :……. Such inspirational words Anna, keep strong, keep positive and follow those dreams. X


  11. Anna I have never met you but my daughter has told me about you.
    I cannot imagine what you and your family are dealing with on a day to day basis.
    However through all the uncertainty they must be incredibly proud of you, as am I, a complete stranger.
    I am reading your blog and your strength and determination shines through.
    You are still so young with your whole life ahead of you, yet you have a strength of character that many people twice your age lack.
    Your life may be different than how you might have invisaged it right now but know that thousands of people, many of them strangers like me, are supporting and encouraging you during these uncertain times.

    I wish you all the luck and love in the world. Xxxxx


  12. Anna, thank you for sharing this with us all. All of your extended friends at Mitie Client Services wish you much love and hope for the future. Keep writing and we will be wearing hats tomorrow to help raise awarness. Take care, continue to be strong and I very much look forward to your next blog. David x


  13. considering I’m a frequent client of lox of love there not a time I go in and don’t hear your name mentioned and all people ever say is that your a strong amazing women who isn’t backing down and instead making the best of an awful situation!

    it was only an hour ago I found out your op went well and they’ve taken a large chuck of trev away ☺️

    it’s heartbreaking reading this and I wish you all the very best!

    keep up the good work and don’t back down! such a strong insperational women 💋


  14. Hi Anna, it is very sad to hear you are going through this. You don’t know me but I have worked for Linda at the charity shop in Harpenden for a short period of time, and I found her amazing….so I know you are as well.
    Keep fighting! I will pray for you and your family. Lots of love


  15. Hi Anna, You are so amazing! My Dad had a brain tumour like you, and there was something that definitely made a difference. Shark cartilage tablets from the health food shop. His tumour was aggressive like yours and he was given 1-2 months to live. The shark cartilage encapsulated the tumor and the next scan it had shrunk. Only problem is he started on it a bit too late, but he still lived over 13 months more than than the doctors had given him. I think we felt if the doctors were giving no solutions because it was inoperable we may as well try other natural alternatives. Obviously, if you are allergic to fish food perhaps not the best idea! But worth a thought as Shark cartilage has helped in alot of different cancers ( like ovarian)..Anyhow! I’m sure with your fighting spirit you will achieve everything you dreamed of and more. Keep loving life, and keep smiling…for where there is life, love and determination, there is always hope. You are an inspiration to us all. Gill.Xxxxxxxx


  16. Good for you, Anna. Don’t listen to prognoses, they are only an indication of what has gone before, not what is happening NOW or in the future. My dad, in Coxhoe so not far from you, was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Glioblastoma in the November of 2010 – he was ‘given’ maybe 14-24 months, yet he is still with us today. He’s our Iron Man! This situation has been, and continues to be, a rollercoaster ride in every sense of the word, and he is currently in hospital poorly (with a blood clot on his lung) and suffers from right side mobility/speech problems now, but he and we have dealt with not only the initial diagnosis, but also a regrowth after 17 months, and the tumour has remained stable since then. His oncologist at the Freeman also has another patient, a lady, who was diagnosed around the same time as Dad. Just keep doing what you’re doing, maintain a normal life (whatever that is!) and deal with any problems as they arise. There’s no reason why you can’t beat this🙂 xxx


  17. Hi Anna
    I got the link to this blog after reading today’s article in The Sun on Sunday. I think you are a very strong and inspirational young lady. I was diagnosed with invasive superficial spreading Malignant Melanoma in 2014 and was lucky enough to have it completely excised and not need any further treatment. I was lucky enough to be given a second chance as it were but I do sometimes still take life and people for granted. Reading your article has made me realise I should be more grateful for what I have no matter how small it is and to live each day as well as I’m able to and not feel sorry for myself. I wish you and your partner all the best for the future together and hope the rest of your treatment plan goes as well as can be expected. Take care and lots of love- Jill Miller xXx


  18. I found your blog online I was doing research trying to understand why something similar happened to someone close to me just a bit older than you at 24. I am 25 and we talked about spending our lives together unfortunately that has been taken away. But reading this gave me some comfort so thank you and good luck in your fight. You can win.


    1. Hi Adam,
      I am now 24 and since being given my diagnosis I have met the love of my life and we are getting married in September. I am determined to live what life I have left to the full, and I aim to live way beyond the average diagnosis I have been given!
      I have a Facebook page for my blog too – Inside My Head – if you ever want to ask any questions etc. please go ahead xx


  19. Hi Anna I’m glad I came across your blog. My daughter was just diagnosed yesterday with the exact same tumor you have. Lily is 14 years old and a fighter. We have a great children’s hospital here so we are very lucky. Best of luck to you and you sound like an amazing fighter as well!!!!


    1. Hi Hollie,
      I am devastated to hear about Lily! But I’m sure with your support, a great hospital, and her positive attitude, she will fight for a longggg time yet!!
      Please send her my love and if I can ever help with any questions do get in touch.
      All my love, Anna xxx


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