Originally diagnosed with a neurological condition which causes extreme fatigue, Elisha was told she had a brain tumour after she blacked out at the wheel of her car. With no treatment available and with an uncertain future, the 24-year-old carer is hoping to become a fashion model and to use her role as Miss Norfolk to raise awareness of the disease.
“I feel as if I have a heavy weight on my shoulders and I have gone through many different emotions. To begin with, I was angry that I had been told such devastating news yet there was no treatment. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better not to know and not to have to live with the constant anxiety and worry that every little ache or pain, every headache, might mean the tumour is growing.”
Elisha tells her story …
Nobody imagines that, at the age of 24, they are going to be diagnosed with a brain tumour. And, even worse, that there is nothing to be done except to have it checked every six months.
It was bad enough that four years earlier I was told I had Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), a long-term neurological condition which left me exhausted and, at my worst, sleeping for 22 hours a day.
I had been suffering from a lot of headaches and my whole body would ache, I was tired all the time and had to take a lot of time away from my job as a carer at the Royal British Legion Care Home, Halsey House, in Cromer where I live.
There is no treatment for the condition which fluctuates over time. It left me feeling very low as, understandably, your friends stop asking you to do things with them. I was depressed and lonely, not knowing what the next day would bring.
There was nothing I could do but accept ME was something that I had to live with. I was lucky that after a while I was feeling better which enabled me to be more positive and I also got back to work. I continued to have headaches and in November 2016 things took a turn for the worse when I zoned out as I was driving and ended up careering up a bank and with a tyre blow-out.
It was obvious to me that this was down to more than the ME and I went to my GP the next day and from there was sent for tests to see if I had epilepsy. It was all a bit of a whirlwind as I was told I had a brain tumour and underwent a biopsy at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. Tissue samples were taken and I had an extremely anxious two-week wait for the results.
I felt as if I was in limbo, that my life had been put on pause while, together with my partner John, I waited to hear what lay ahead. It was an extremely anxious time much of which I was in denial about what was happening. I just couldn’t accept what was going on.
When the results did come back, I was told I had a low-grade glioma close to my optic nerve. The location meant it was too dangerous to operate as I could be left blind or with high rise of having a stroke or seizures. Neither was chemotherapy or radiotherapy an option. All I could do was to try to carry on with my life and have a scan every six months. I have known from the outset that the tumour is going to grow but no-one knows when or to what extent.
I feel as if I have a heavy weight on my shoulders and I have gone through many different emotions. To begin with, I was angry that I had been told such devastating news yet there was no treatment. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better not to know and not to have to live with the constant anxiety and worry that every little ache or pain, every headache, might mean the tumour is growing.
The diagnosis has definitely changed the way I live my life. There is a lot more that I want to do and I just feel I should get on with it. I entered a beauty pageant in September and won and now I feel it has given me the confidence to do more. I would never have dreamt of doing a catwalk before but, after my initial nerves, I loved it. I want to do more and am looking to see if I can pursue a career as a fashion model. I want to use my role as Miss Norfolk and Miss Inspiration in order to raise awareness of brain tumours.
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer. That could be me. Research into this disease has been allocated just 1% of the national spend on cancer research. How can that be right?
I am so lucky that my partner, my family and friends have been so supportive. We all have a good cry when we need it but I determined to make the most of my life whatever happens and however long it may be.
Being crowned Miss Norfolk has helped me to realise that it’s important to take every opportunity when it comes along. I would never have dreamt of doing something like this before my diagnosis.
One of the hardest things I have discovered about having a brain tumour is that it is a hidden illness. Apart from headaches, I have had no symptoms and no-one can tell from looking at me that I have this thing in my head. I would like more people to understand that and I feel privileged to think that I can help others by sharing my story and raising awareness.
Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
If you have been inspired by Elisha’s story, you may like to make a donation via her JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/elisha-hudson1 or leave a gift in your will via https://www.braintumourresearch.org/legacy
Together we will find a cure.
The views or opinions expressed within are not necessarily those of Brain Tumour Research. This content has been shared for information purposes only. Brain Tumour Research does not recommend or endorse any particular treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor or other suitably qualified medical professional. Our member charity brainstrust can provide additional information on treatment options.