Stunning student defies doctor who told her deadly brain tumour would leave her with special needs to graduate from university with teaching degree
A young woman who was told that a life-saving operation on a deadly brain tumour would probably leave her with special needs has defied doctors’ predictions – and graduated from university with a teaching degree.
Hannah Jones, 21, had to learn how to walk and talk all over again after suffering a stroke during an operation on a cancerous tumour on her brain.
She made the agonising decision to go ahead with the operation, even though doctors warned it would trigger a stroke – and could leave her permanently disabled and with a reduced level of intelligence.
But amazingly, she defied all their predictions – and has now made so much progress she has graduated from the University of Chester with a 2:1 Honours degree in Education – and plans to work in a school for kids with special needs.
Hannah, from Chester, Cheshire, said: “My three years at uni has been really, really hard. I’ve still been having treatment and it’s been exhausting.
“There were times where I wanted to give up, but my family and tutors were so supportive and kept me going. I’m so happy that I finally got here.
“I’d always wanted to go to university and train to be a teacher, but surgeons told me that the operation I needed to save my life would probably make that impossible.
“I was told that the radiotherapy, chemotherapy and operations would cause so much damage that I would never be able to sit A levels, never mind go to uni.
“I met one of my best friends, Christie Butler, while I was having treatment, but sadly, she didn’t survive her tumour. Before she passed away, she bought me a beautiful necklace, that I wore on my graduation day. I knew she would want to be there with me.
“I’ve always wanted to teach, but especially after I got ill, I wanted to work with special needs children, because I feel I have a better understanding of what they’re going through.
“I have just got a job as a teaching assistant in a special educational needs school, and get a great deal of satisfaction from working with children who face many challenges ahead.”
Doctors first discovered the four centimetre tumour growing in Hannah’s brain six years ago. After two risky operations to remove it, nureosurgeon Conor Mallucci told the family her only option was 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 the operation in August 2009, and suffered a major stroke while she was in theatre at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.
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.
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.
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 five years.
Her dad Steve, a university lecturer, added: “We are so proud of Hannah and everything she’s achieved, but we know we are incredibly lucky.
“So many people who have brain tumours don’t make it to that five year point, and Hannah has tirelessly raised funds for the Brain Tumour Charity, regardless of how busy or unwell she has been.
“Her mother and I are so proud of both our daughters.”