What a time to be alive - Believe you can and you are halfway there.

So, guys, I’ve never taken the time to properly write, post or share about this, but here goes……...

It’s approaching the one-year anniversary of my 15-hour brain tumour surgery on 29th September, and what a year it has been. I feel very passionate about doing something to celebrate my first milestone, how far I have come in such a short while, show those that need it most that anything is possible and more importantly to try and raise some money for the amazing Walton Neuro Hospital (The Walton Centre). The surgery and care I received there was outstanding, they all perform miracles every single day and are absolute earth angels deserving the world.

To celebrate I have decided to Challenge the Wild, and I would be so grateful if you could help me in raising as much money as possible. I know times are hard at the moment, and I don’t like to ask people to part with their money. I’ve also never posted about this chapter in my book of life either so believe me I have stressed and changed my mind about this post for weeks and weeks. But in the grand scheme of things, if I can help even just one person become a little braver, provide encouragement to others or make even the smallest of changes by donating some loose change we all have, then my job is complete. So, if you are still reading and not bored stiff of my story yet, id be thrilled if you could donate anything at all. There is no amount too small or too big and anything will be a massive help to a great cause.

So, my challenge involves: -

Rock scrambling
Caves and tunnels
River scrambling
Waterfall jumping
Raft building
Camping in the wild

Not bad for someone who was told they may need to learn to walk again, or even might die.

My story……. I was diagnosed with a rare kind of brain tumour called an acoustic neuroma, or vestibular schwannoma. It developed in the right side of my head, on the inner vestibular nerves of my ear that attaches my hearing to my brain. I had no symptoms, and what I thought was a simple hearing test one day turned into a nightmare. The day I was given the news my first thought was how was I going to tell the people I love, my second thought was I’m so relieved this is happening to me and not another member of my family or friends, and thirdly, I need a wine. So, I took myself to Sushi train, I ordered my favourite food and had the biggest glass of wine. I needed to plan plan plan.

An acoustic neuroma is slow growing tumour, that can lay dormant for year and years, but it will continuously grow and although they are non-cancerous, they are very dangerous. They can become very large and press against the brain, affecting vital functions.

The plan of action – I was advised very early on that I would permanently lose my hearing on the affected right side. The approach would be surgical to remove the tumour from my head by way of open brain surgery called the translabyrinthine approach.

The risks - to name just a few – learning to walk again, loss of life, loss of smile, hearing loss, nerve weaknesses, tinnitus, taste disturbance, mouth dryness, dizziness and balance disturbance, facial paralysis, eye and sight complications, brain complications, spinal fluid leak, excessive bleeding, swelling of the brain and potential infection.

This is of course a very brief, watered down, and very short version of my story. To go into the inns and outs of it on here would take an eternity, but I will be creating a blog very soon which will be a tell all version with all the twists and turns, the laughs and the tears encountered along the way.

I tried to approach this chapter of my life with bravery, positivity, and grace. When I felt that fear I knew it was the exact time I needed to take that leap, dive into all things hopeful, knowing on the other side of fear there was only positivity, I wasn’t going to allow fear to get in my way.

I’d be fibbing if I said my recovery was all sunshine and rainbows, it was goddamn tough, physically and mentally. But my recover exceeded everyone’s expectations, especially my medical team. But not mine, I knew I was going to be ok. I felt it, and most of all I believed it. From the very beginning I had the most overriding conviction I would get better, and those thoughts and my sheer determination never ever left me.

I felt like I’d been hit by a train for months and months but the power of positivity, I believe is what got me through the whole ordeal from start to finish. Of course, I had good and bad days, but ultimately, I went into surgery smiling and I literally came out smiling. I was in ICU, and I made them stand me up the same day I was out of surgery, I made them get me out the bed, I embraced my walking stick (still got it for the laughs) I laughed when my balance was off and people thought I was day drunk. I embraced my new haircut, I did my exercises, and I smiled as much as I could through the pain.

I didn’t know my own strength, but I was brave, mostly for others, and I have such a strong resilience now that I fear nothing.

The power of love and the care of family and friends is everything. I have a whole new respect for life, appreciating the good times, and always learning from the bad times. I know I am one of the lucky ones and I will never take that for granted.

No matter where you are at in life, anything can happen, and most importantly anything is possible.

I hope you can help me in donating anything you can to such an amazing hospital and charity, that is local on our doorstep, and who go above and beyond to save lives every single day. Hayley Reeves