A YOUNG brain tumour patient who beat the odds to train as a teacher took centre stage at a top London conference.
Hannah Jones, 20, addressed international experts about her experience of living with cancer for the last six years and urged them to do whatever it takes to find more effective treatments.
Hannah, from Handbridge, had two major brain operations and gruelling radiotherapy treatment after her tumour was first diagnosed in 2008.
It recurred less than a year later and she underwent further life-saving surgery which caused a stroke, leaving her unable to walk or feed herself.
She made an astonishing recovery and went on to win awards for her courage and her fundraising efforts for The Brain Tumour Charity, organisers of next week’s Brilliant Minds symposium.
Hannah has raised more than £170,000 to date to help fund its pioneering brain tumour research.
Now in her final year of a teaching degree at the University of Chester, Hannah will have an MRI scan next month on the fifth anniversary of her last operation. A clear result would represent a significant milestone – but Hannah lives with the knowledge she could face a further battle against her cancer.
“It will come back in the end,” she said. “But I’ll carry on fundraising and talking about brain tumour research until I can’t do it any more.”
Hannah’s neurosurgeon and oncologist from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital was in the audience to hear her speak, along with specialists from countries including the US, Australia, Germany, Canada, Holland and Italy.
After the event at the Queen Elizabeth II conference in Westminster, Hannah spoke at a Parliamentary reception attended by symposium participants, MPs and peers from all parties and families affected by brain tumours.
She is passionate about the need for more brain tumour research, believing she is alive today partly because she was one of the first paediatric brain tumour patients in the UK to be given chemotherapy drugs via ‘wafers’ inserted into her brain.
Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children in the UK and other young people Hannah met during her treatment have already lost their lives to the disease.
She told the specialists: “We should not have to plan our funerals as children or young adults, pick our funeral songs, say goodbyes.”
Hannah said she wanted to use her speech to highlight the long-term effects of brain tumours and their treatment.
“I think it’s important for the researchers to be aware it’s not just the cancer that changes your life, it’s what happens because of the treatment,” she said.
“My pituitary gland was damaged by radiotherapy, which means it doesn’t produce growth hormones, so I suffered from extreme tiredness after my treatment.
“Now I have to have an injection of replacement growth hormones every night.”
Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “Hannah’s courage and determination have already inspired so many people to help us in the fight against brain tumours. Now her story has been heard by an international audience with the power to drive forward global brain tumour research.”