Penketh mum Mel O'Neill has been fighting breast cancer for more than a decade.

She writes a regular blog for the Warrington Guardian on her experiences.

IT’s a Sunday. Having had one hell of a day, I am tempted to blame it on the reliving element of writing my book after completing a lengthy chapter about turning 40 on the day of the Rainbow Ball and dancing the night away surrounded by people I love most. Although cancer was still a massive part of my life (and probably always will be), I was in great condition mentally and physically after not long returning from the Raw Institute in America.

It’s not the happiest I felt on my 40th that I am reliving and feeling now, it’s the after effects of the car crash I was involved in that has left my brain damaged. You see, since that day I have struggled with memory loss, my confidence has disintegrated when I come to doing important tasks, I suffer paranoia when filling out forms, booking restaurants or hotels, appointments for anything as I fear I may make a mistake with the day or time or perhaps there’s something else I should have considered that hasn’t even entered my head. I have a permanent blind spot in my eyes which has left my peripheral vision impaired and I am still unstable on my feet.

Not only am I now unemployable having managed many people over the years, I need constant reassuring and I’m only able to do simple tasks alone like stacking shelve, hanging clothes, tidying or cleaning. I now need to be managed. Then to tip me over the edge medical professionals have confirmed I have a blind spot in both eyes and warned me not to drive and to contact the DVLA, who responded saying there is a back log of letters they are dealing with because of Covid so there could be a delay. That was in March.

So my independence has been stripped from me in every way possible as my life relies on other people to guide me. I must be a nightmare to live with, to have selective memory which is questioned continuously even after seven years. If I say something and the person can’t remember it, I question myself, not knowing whether it actually happened or not, my confidence taking another blow. My calendar helps me to remember birthdays and appointments I make but should I forget to write anything down then I find myself double booking or simply just forgetting and letting people down.

I’m sorry to the people around me who have to continually drive me to places. I am sorry for moving things then forgetting where I’ve put them. I am sorry for forgetting to book tickets, pay bills and buy items promised because of my poor memory. Having never wanted to become a victim of anything, I now hold my hands up and apologise to those close to me for the burden I have become and the victim I am prepared to finally admit that I am, of a brain injury that has stolen the person I was and so much want to still be yet I am not. Although I do not blame my dad, who was driving on that day, I do blame the glass that shattered, piercing my brain twice and leaving me a different person, one so difficult to live with yet I have to live with these insecurities every single day for the rest of my life.

I might be a blogger, a vlogger, a makeup artist and cancer thriver with incurable stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer, but when walking in my shoes I take two to three hours writing a blog now instead of half an hour like before the brain injury because of the inability to type as quick and I press the incorrect keys. When I’m vlogging, I often forget what I’m saying and many times have to start again. I forget descriptive words needed when explaining how to apply makeup and I live in fear of getting brain fog mid-sentence. And yes, I am a cancer thriver but this brain injury has left far more damage to my soul and mental state than cancer ever could. Learning how to overcome the fear of cancer is an achievement I can only credit myself with when things are going good. When things are not so good I often crumble as the fear comes creeping back.

The brain injury has left me feeling broken and a burden to others, an insecure human being who lacks confidence in so many areas even if I’ve found confidence in new areas. I try and focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t do and I accept and understand my changed state but I can’t expect the same understanding from others as I appear to be back to normal. A person with a brain injury has scars that are hidden, that people can’t see or will ever understand.

At a time in my life when I honestly thought my little body couldn’t go through any more, I am now the not-so-proud owner of anxiety - becoming anxious when given too many tasks, I feel my brain may explode and my chest tighten. But I look at people going about their daily business, working and dealing with things, organising events juggling tasks and it only makes me realise how incapable I am of doing such things.

Perhaps I need a support group where I can talk to others who are going through the same things and not feel so isolated. I am grateful to have survived the car accident and I’m surviving living with an aggressive cancer, but every once in a while I slip and fall. My friend (a lifestyle and wellbeing coach and my guru, who I often turn to) and I are walking our dogs tomorrow because, like I always say, I will not let this anxiety consume me. Whether people understand me or not, Lynsey will help me to get back on my feet so I don’t stay down for long.