A teenager has taught herself how to speak, stand and eat again after she suffered a massive stroke during an operation to remove a brain tumour. Hannah Jones was 15 when doctors found a four-centimetre growth spreading behind her right eye. But after two operations to remove it, surgeons told her they would have to dig deep into her brain to truly kill the deadly cancer. The teenager suffered a massive stroke during the operation which doctors said would leave her mentally and physically disabled for the rest of her life. But despite their grim predictions, she has fought back to health - and is now studying to go to university.
Her ordeal began when she began suffering dizzy spells at home four years ago and scans revealed a growth behind her right eye.
But it wasn’t until after two painful operations that doctors realised it was cancerous and would kill her if drastic action wasn’t taken immediately.
But the necessary operation was so risky, doctors told her it would more than likely trigger a stroke - and could leave her permanently disabled and with a reduced level of intelligence.
Hannah, from Chester, Cheshire, said: ‘I know I’m very lucky to still be alive - brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children.
‘I was told that the radiotherapy, chemotherapy and operations would cause so much damage that I would never make it to university, and I might have special needs.
‘But I wasn’t worried about that - I’d rather have my life.
‘Just before I went into theatre to have my operation, I just turned to my surgeons and said ‘Go for it. Just get it out’’.
But amazingly, she defied all their predictions - and has now made so much progress she is studying at university to become a teacher.
And the kind-hearted student has also raised £160,000 to help fund research into the condition - an achievement recognised when she was recently awarded the young Rotarian Citizen award.
Hannah’s dad, Steve, a university lecturer, said: ‘When the doctors told us Hannah had cancer, it hit us like a tonne of bricks. My wife, Diane, and I were left feeling hollow and numb.
‘I felt like our family had had part of us scooped out, and taken away from us.’
Hannah had two operations to remove the tumour before doctors confirmed that it was cancerous.
Her neurosurgeon, Conor Mallucci, told Hannah he could perform a third operation, which would scrape tumour cells away from an artery deep in her brain - but that it would almost certainly trigger a stroke.
Hannah had her third operation in August 2009, and suffered a major stroke while she was in theatre.
When she came round, she was unable to talk, stand or even eat by herself, and began the long journey back to health that doctors never thought she would make.
Hannah said: ‘I didn’t think twice about whether I would have the operation - I needed it to save my life.
‘I had complete confidence in my surgeons - the team were brilliant.
‘There’s no point in feeling sorry for myself. I don’t think there’s any point sitting around saying ‘why me?’ because someone has to get cancer, and it was me.
‘I was more worried for my family than me, because I kept thinking, if I pop my clogs, it’s going to be them that’s left to deal with it.
‘It was very difficult recovering from the surgery, but I was determined to do it.
‘I want to keep fundraising and making people more aware of brain tumours - I was shocked when I discovered there is hardly any funding for research into brain cancers, despite them affecting so many people.’
It took four months for Hannah to even be able to stand by herself - but her progress stunned doctors, and she slowly relearned how to do everything she could before.
She returned home, using a wheelchair, weeks after her operation - and the family converted their garage into a ground floor flat for her.
It took months before she was able to stand and walk without help - but eventually, she managed to surpass all doctors’ expectations.
Studious Hannah even sat her GCSEs while having chemotherapy - and passed her A levels while recovering from her stroke.
Now, she is studying at the University of Chester and hopes to qualify as a primary school teacher.
During her final operation, surgeons carried out a rare procedure where they inserted ‘wafers’ into Hannah’s brain - that constantly release small doses of chemotherapy.
And despite medics fearing that Hannah’s tumour would soon return, her tumour has remained at bay for three years.
Her dad Steve, added: ‘Although living with a brain tumour is a life-limiting condition, there has been no signs of any progression for the last three years.
‘Our family are so proud of Hannah - she is so brave. She only cried once, on the day she was told she had cancer, and since then, she has thrown herself into fundraising and raising awareness of brain tumours.
‘I wanted her to take time out and concentrate on looking after herself, but she was so shocked when she found out how little money is spent on funding research into brain cancer, she wanted to do all she can to change that.
‘Sadly, many of Hannah’s friends she has made along her journey are no longer with us - which just reminds us that we have to live life to the full.
‘Most dads don’t want their daughter to go out partying and have a boyfriend - but I want Hannah to do all of that. I want her to enjoy her life.
‘I think it is important that she packs as much as she can into her life, and she had definitely lived a lifetime so far, and met some inspiring people along the way, some of which are no longer here.
‘Hannah is just one of many with this condition, but what people don’t see is how tired she still is, and how she battles on against the odds.’
Sarah Lindsell, CEO of the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust said: ‘Hannah’s spirit and unrelenting ability spread the message about brain tumours as well as raising much needed funds is inspirational.
‘Despite numerous brain surgeries, concerns about her health and her young age, she has kept focussed in her war against brain tumours.
‘Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40.