A 24-year-old from St Albans has opened up about the moment his life changed after he collapsed whilst playing football in April 2021.
Shay Emerton was rushed to hospital in April last year after he suffered a seizure whilst playing football and rushed to hospital where scans revealed he had a brain tumour.
In summer last year he underwent surgery in which 98 per cent of his grade 2 gliomas removed, but he suffered supplementary motor area syndrome which left him with temporary paralysis down his right-hand side.
Speaking about the days running up to the fateful football match, Shay said he was just a normal 24-year-old who spent time with his friends set up his own company.
He said: “The game was going well, we were 2-1 up and I’d even scored a goal, before the ball hit me hard in my head and I fell down. I remember thinking: ‘something’s not right here’ as my head went fuzzy. I felt as if I was on the verge of passing out and when I tried to stand up, my legs were shaking and I couldn’t.
“Luckily, the opposition had an anaesthetist playing for them – he’d never played before and was just standing in for a friend – and he gave me CPR on the pitch and got me breathing again. The next thing I knew I was waking up in the ambulance wondering what had happened.”
Shay added that at first he struggled to come to terms with his diagnosis, as someone who had always looked after his health and went to the gym several times a week.
He said: “Telling my friends was one of the hardest things to do because I didn’t have any answers and didn’t know what the future held at that point.
“It sounds silly but I was also a little embarrassed about my diagnosis because I didn’t want people to see me differently – I’d always been the sporty adventurous guy and I didn’t want to be the potentially disabled brain tumour cancer patient.”
After undergoing several tests Shay underwent surgery on July 12, the day of his mum’s birthday and recalled his feelings before.
He said: “I can’t explain the level of fear I felt that night as I contemplated a surgery I might not wake up from or which might leave me paralysed; I was in bits.”
Reflecting on his diagnosis, Shay said that whilst he has to live with the fear the tumour will return, he’s wants to life his life to the fullest.
He said: “If I hadn’t been hit by the ball on that fateful day, I could still be living my life without knowing about my tumour so in that sense I’ve got a head start on it. I’ve decided that I don’t want to live a compromised life because I’m worried about what could happen; I want to make the most of it.”
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Photo credit: Brain Tumour Research