Natalie's story

Hi, my name is Natalie Yates and I'm 16. When I was 14, I was diagnosed with a Craniopharyngioma, a brain tumour on the pituitary gland. It was diagnosed after lots of bad headaches etc that I had for about a year, and then they got so bad that I got really ill one night and was sent into hospital (by my mum). They transferred me to Pendlebury Children's Hospital where I had an operation to drain the fluid off of the tumour, and then I stayed in for a couple of weeks, but most of it I don't really remember.

I know I had a really bad memory for about a week, I kept waking up wondering where I was and why I was there, so my mum put a note up on the wall explaining it all that I could see every time I woke up. You wouldn't believe how many times I looked at that!

When I got stable I came out of hospital and then went on to have six weeks of radiotherapy, which I was really scared of having at first, but it really wasn't bad. It was basically like having an MRI (full body) scan, but without the big tube around you. I lay on this bed whilst this big thing slowly turned into position, and it makes this weird noise whilst you receive the radiotherapy. It lasted about 90 seconds a day because I had it aimed at three parts of my head, and you don't feel it at all, though you do have to wear a mouth piece or a mask to keep you in place, but again that's really not bad.

I did lose some hair from the areas that the radiotherapy was aimed at, but I just covered it with the rest of my hair or headbands. Nobody ever knew I had lost any, so I showed people instead! I also put a tiny bit of weight on around my face, but again, it doesn't stay for long.

After the radiotherapy, it was a case of getting tablets right. I have to take tablets because the tumour is on the pituitary gland, and so I don't produce many of my own hormones. I take about 16 tablets a day, and have one injection at night which is my growth hormones, and considering I'm very short, I don't mind about that one, plus I have got used to it now. I actually didn't know how to take tablets a couple of years back, but now I'm a pro, ha ha! I have regular check ups on my tablets and to check the tumour hasn't grown back.

Then this Charity got in touch - Wish Upon A Star - who granted me three wishes: to go shopping, watch City in a box, and stay in a nice hotel, and I have just had them all granted. It was amazing, I never thought I would be rewarded for having a brain tumour! They are such nice people, and they basically help people with life threatening or terminal illnesses.

I got the tumour when I was in year 10, but carried on with GCSE's and got 3A*'s, 4 A's and a B, which I was really happy with, but I stressed myself out over them and looking back, I really shouldn't have - it's important that you look after yourself and do the work in little steps. I didn't do that and got so worked up.

I'm at college now doing 4 A levels but I think I'm going to drop one, I don't want to end up being stressed for 2 years! My illness was so overwhelming at first - the diagnosis, operation, radiotherapy, tablets... but seriously, I have gotten used to it, and realised that it really isn't so bad. Me and my friends (and family) are always laughing and joking, just getting on with it really. I joke about having a tumour now, good way of getting out of doing the washing up!! ha ha, doesn't always go down very well though! My advice, if I could give any to anyone, is to try to stay up beat.

 

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"I know I had a really bad memory for about a week, I kept waking up wondering where I was and why I was there, so my mum put a note up on the wall explaining it all that I could see every time I woke up."