A TEENAGE girl from Conwy who discovered she had a large brain tumour four years ago has since taken up the guitar and said she won’t let her illness get in the way of her dreams.

Hannah Popey, 17, was told she had a large cystic tumour in her brain, which ultimately led to her leaving Ysgol Aberconwy to be home-schooled instead.

The heightened sense of isolation, coupled with her inability to play sport, left Hannah, who also suffers from chronic pain and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), feeling as if she had “nothing in life”.

But after asking her mum to buy her a guitar two years ago, and drawing inspiration from American singer Billie Eilish, who released her debut album at the same age as Hannah, she said it’s as if she’s found a new purpose in life again.

She said: “About four years ago, when I was in high school, I just really started struggling. I was really fatigued, and had joint and muscle pains.

“The doctors didn’t know what was going on, so I was back and forth from seeing them all the time.

“They found the tumour, and that obviously made me really upset. It wasn’t just the tumour – they found a tear in my heart, as well, and every time I was going to the hospital, I felt like another illnesses was just being added on to the list.

“I’m a really determined person, so I still wanted to go into school. Before this all happened, I used to be such a sporty person; I loved football, and being outdoors.

“But because I was really struggling to go to school, I had a meeting with the school, who said I should be home-schooled, because my illnesses were that bad.

“After I left school, everything really went downhill. I had to use a wheelchair, crutches, a neck brace; I just couldn’t move.

“I had no social life, so I started to get down and upset. I just had nothing in life; I couldn’t do anything that I used to.

“So, I asked my mum to buy me a guitar. I was really inspired by Billie Eilish, because she’s a young artist herself, so I learned guitar myself just from YouTube, and thought ‘I’m going to try and write songs’.”


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Initially writing about her own life, and the comfort and inspiration that music offered her, Hannah has gone on to play charity concerts across Conwy, and hopes to show people in similar situations to her that they can still pursue their dreams.

Though she still suffers from the effects of her tumour, and requires a wheelchair at times, it has shrunk to such an extent that Hannah now calls it her “brain bean”.

She’s also studying music technology at Coleg Llandrillo in Rhos-on-Sea, where she attends three days a week.

Hannah added: “I wrote a song about not knowing what I’m going to do with my life, and finding that music really helped me.

“I’ve written loads of songs since; the reason I write them is to show that, no matter what life throws at you, you can do what you want to do.

“I want to do big shows and get my music out there, and show people what I can do. Just showing people my music, and learning to play guitar, has been a highlight – I like people seeing what I can do.

“I call it (tumour) my ‘brain bean’ now. My health is better than it was; I’ve learnt to manage it now, but it’s still there, so if I overdo it, I’ll become ill and won’t be able to move out of bed for days.

“But I just know my limits now. I still have to use my wheelchair if I’m going out. I’ll have all of these illnesses for life. I’m just managing in college, for three days a week.

“I just want to help other people in the same situation.”

Hannah is also receiving assistance in getting her musical career off the ground from Paul Keefe, a former professional singer also based in Conwy.

Paul, who has worked with such artists as Tony Hadley and The Human League, said when he first heard of Hannah’s story, he immediately wanted to a lend a hand, free of charge.

He said: “I've been in the industry myself, and a while ago a lady came to me and asked if there was any chance I could help Hannah in any way.

“I heard her story and thought: ‘I don't believe this; it’s unbelievable’. I'm just doing what I can for her; I'm going to do some production work for her for free.

“I just thought it would be wonderful to give something back and help someone younger achieve something in their life.

“I'm not doing it for money, I'd rather help Hannah through these things.

“She's done amazing with her songs, and she wants to help other people. She's absolutely fantastic, and the songs are good as well. She's worked so hard.”

For more information, go to: www.facebook.com/Hannahpopey4.