Meet Clare, diagnosed with a brain tumour, aged 15

Meet Clare, diagnosed with a brain tumour, aged 15

I’m Clare and I was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 15. 
 
I love my tattoos and piercings and I’ve just had an arm piece done to celebrate five years with no tumour regrowth! This summer, I finished my BA in Philosophy and I’m about to start my MA at the University of Kent. I work as a nanny for two wonderful children and I’m a keen caver in my spare time.
 
Before my diagnosis, I was living at our family home in Buckinghamshire with my mum, dad, brother and our beautiful cockapoo named Charlie.
 
I was diagnosed in 2014 after having constant headaches, which I had put down to stress. I had some real struggles with my mental health before I was diagnosed, so that was the seemingly obvious cause, but finally after yet another doctors trip I got sent to the local hospital for a precautionary scan.
 
It was on my first day in Year 11 at school when the hospital asked me to return. I went with my mum and as soon as we sat down in the paediatrics waiting room it was clear something was wrong.
I was told I had something on my brain - it could have been an infection, a low grade or a high-grade brain tumour.
 
I was sent to the John Radcliffe hospital the next day for further tests and a biopsy, which was inconclusive. However, because I was experiencing so many symptoms synonymous with a brain tumour, I elected to have a craniotomy to remove the tumour, which was found to be a Grade 2 Glioma.
 
I was numb when I realised the reality behind my tumour and that it was always going to be present in my thoughts, if not my mind itself. Even now, I find myself waiting for its return. 
It took me four years to recover from my surgery, and I still have a scan every six months, but I’ve just passed my five year ‘craniversary’ with no tumour growth!
 
My diagnosis completely changed my life and I am incredibly grateful to Teens Unite because they have allowed my diagnosis to actually benefit my life.
 
I was on a downward trajectory and then being diagnosed with a brain tumour initially felt like the end. I was 15 when I registered with Teens Unite – it was at a time when I was feeling incredibly alone, but I soon found a group of people who understood what I was going through.
 
I started going to the activities organised by Teens Unite and realised this was a chance to get my life in gear and I felt so supported doing so.
 
I have struggled with fatigue and I have a metal plate in my head, which occasionally plays up, but the support from Teens Unite and my friends has encouraged me to start living again.
 
I attended Teens Unite’s ‘Discover You’ event, where motivational speakers took to the stage throughout the day to share their life experiences. One of them spoke in a way that was so inspiring and his words are still with me now, four years on.
 
I’ve also done a junk percussion music workshop, macramé workshop, a beauty day and a skincare day as well as an online art workshop during lockdown.
 
Teens Unite mean the world to me. They have encouraged me to stay strong and determined. I have made genuine friends and found a charity that cares about you no matter where you are in your cancer journey.
 
I cannot thank them enough for the profound impact they have had in helping me to enjoy life.

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