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 🙂