Enjoy five incredible and inspirational life stories in one amazing boxset.
1.Old Before My Time - Hayley Okines' Life with Progeria
In Old Before My Time, Hayley and her mum Kerry reflect on her unusual life. Share Hayley’s excitement as she travels the world meeting her pop heroes Kylie, Girls Aloud and Justin Bieber and her sadness as she loses her best friend to the disease at the age of 11.
Now as she passes the age of 13 – the average life expectancy for a child with progeria – Hayley talks frankly about her hopes for the future and her pioneering drug trials in America which could unlock the secrets of ageing for everyone...
2. Running Free - Kate Allatt
Can you imagine being trapped inside your own body? Able to see and hear everything going on around you but unable to move or speak - the blink of an eye your only way of communicating.
Fell-runner and fun-loving mother-of-three Kate Allatt’s life was torn apart when what appeared to be a stress-related headache exploded into a massive brainstem stroke leading to locked-in syndrome. Totally paralysed, she became a prisoner inside her own body. Doctors warned her family she would never walk, talk or swallow or lead a normal life again.
But they didn’t know Kate. The words no and never were not in her vocabulary.
With the help of her best friends and family she drew on every ounce of her runner’s stamina and determination to make a recovery that amazed medical experts. Using a letter chart, Kate blinked the words “I will walk again”. Soon she was moving her thumb and communicating with the world via Facebook. Eight months after her stroke, Kate said goodbye to nurses, walked out of hospital and returned home to learn how to run again.
This is the story of her incredible journey.
3. No Hands To Hold and No Legs To Dance On Louise Medus
Loving and living - a Thalidomide survivor's story. While the battle for the compensation of Thalidomide victims was raging in the 1970s, former Labour MP Jack Ashley asked in a parliamentary debate how Louise, then 11 years old, could look forward to “laughing and loving with no hand to hold and no legs to dance on”. This is a survivor’s story, a triumph of the human spirit over adversity.
Louise was born Louise Mason, a victim of the devastating drug Thalidomide. Born without arms and legs, she is the daughter of David Mason, who single-handedly held out against the drug company, the legal establishment and all the other parents of Thalidomide victims in the high-profile fight for proper compensation for the victims. As she was photographed with her family and appeared on television meeting celebrities during the battle, few people realised that she did not live with her wealthy parents and three siblings at their spacious North London home but was being brought up in an institution, Chailey Heritage in Sussex. In fact, Louise had never gone home from hospital and, for the first five weeks of her life, her mother didn’t even see her.
This is a survivor’s story, a triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Louise married John, a partially sighted man, and had two beautiful children. She was devastated when she discovered that he was having an affair with their carer. She also had to undergo a kidney transplant, the first Thalidomide victim to do so. She has worked, been an active disability rights campaigner and has now found new love, with Darren, a fellow Thalidomide victim who was born without arms.
4. Remembering Judith - Ruth Joseph
A true story of shattered childhoods...
Following her escape from Nazi Germany and the loss of her family Judith searches for unconditional love and acceptance. In a bleak boarding house she meets her future husband – another Jewish refugee who cares for her when she is ill. Tragically she associates illness with love and a pattern is set. Judith’s behaviour eventually spiral into anorexia – a disease little known or understood in 1950’s Britain. While she starves herself, Judith forces Ruth, her daughter, to eat. She makes elaborate meals and watches her consume them. She gives her a pint of custard before bed each night. As the disease progresses roles are reversed. Ruth must care for her mother and loses any hope of a normal childhood. The generation gap is tragically bridged by loss and extreme self-loathing, in this moving true story of a family’s fight to survive.
5. The Dark Threads - Jean Davison
Teenage life in the swinging sixties, hanging out in coffee bars talking fashion and pop music, who could wish for more? But in August 1968, growing pains started to kick hard for 18-year-old office worker Jean Davison and adolescent idealism quickly turns to angst and emptiness.
With her home life in chaos, Jean turns to a psychiatrist hoping for a sensible adult to talk to. That’s where her problems really begin: a week’s voluntary psychiatric rest is the start of one long nightmare of drugs, electric shock treatment and abuse which turn her into a zombie.
Losing five years of her young life to the mental health system, Jean finally finds the courage to say “no” to drugs and turns her life around, finds love and returns to the mental health service as a worker.
Balancing quotes from case number 10826, her actual case notes which reveal a diagnosis of chronic schizophrenia, with her own account of interviews with doctors, this memoir raises disturbing questions on the treatment of psychiatric patients, which are still relevant today.