Mum gets a new lease of life

Rebecca Mackey with her five-year-old son, Reuben Flynn, at Beau Salon, Northowram
Rebecca Mackey with her five-year-old son, Reuben Flynn, at Beau Salon, Northowram

Single mum Rebecca Mackey is now looking forward to the future - just months after she had planned her own funeral and written goodbye letters to her mother and son.

Twenty five year old Rebecca’s nightmare began on Christmas Day, two years ago. She felt exhausted and couldn’t play with her then three-year-old son Reuben and instead had to go to bed at 3pm.

Rebecca’s symptoms got progressively worse as she suffered from severe headaches and aversion to light.

She was admitted to Calderdale Royal Hospital where she underwent blood tests and CT scans.

The brain tumour she was suffering from was hard to detect and the 23-year-old was given pain killers to treat what was initially believed to be a migraine.

“The pain was unbearable, more sinister than a migraine - it felt like my heart was beating in my ears and like someone had hit me round the head. I just wanted to bang my head against a wall,” she said.

“Luckily, I had my mum who helped care for Reuben.”

Rebecca, of Shelf, would undergo extensive MRI scans and neuro imaging before she was eventually admitted to Leeds General Infirmary neurological ward for surgery on her brain in March this year.

“I walked down to theatre - I didn’t want to go in a wheelchair, there was nothing wrong with my legs,” said the determined mother-of-one.

Prior to the operation Rebecca was so scared about what the operation would discover, she began to make funeral and will arrangements.

“I was matter of fact about it. I sorted a will and child care for my son. I wrote goodbye letters to my mum and Reuben. I told my mum what I wanted for Rueben’s future.”

During the eight-hour operation a tumour was discovered and removed.

“I owe my life to the doctors and nurses - they kept me going, as I was conscious throughout.,” she said. “It was very confusing after the operation - I couldn’t read or write. When I came round I was rude, snappy and frustrated.

“The brain isn’t designed to be touched - it was a big trauma.”

While Rebecca’s future was in turmoil she bought her Northowram salon Beau Beauty three months before her operation. “I needed something to focus on. I couldn’t give up and had to make plans for a future that included me,” she said.

Rebecca has lost some of her memory but is determined to make positive new memories in the years ahead. A recent scan found no tumour growth.

Rebecca and Reuben have recently returned from a visit to Lapland. “I wanted to take him somewhere special, somewhere we will both never forget. I haven’t been able to be as active a mum as I would have liked, with the tumour.

“Now, I feel like I have been given another life - if I had just taken tablets I would have been dead by 30 as the tumour was vicious,” she said.

Rebecca’s life threatening experience has made her more determined for the future as she fundraises for the charity Brain Tumour Research.

And the positive effect of the medical staff throughout her operation has inspired Rebecca to want to study for a nursing degree.