A 23-YEAR-old who is winning his battle against a brain tumour has told how he has been helped by the Youth Cancer Trust.

John Barlow, who was diagnosed with cancer aged just 11, joined other young people from across the UK for a week’s free activity holiday at Tracy Ann House in Alum Chine, Bournemouth.

It was John’s fifth visit to YCT, which allows young people living with cancer the chance to meet others of their own age who have been through treatment.

John began suffering from headaches in October 1998 and was diagnosed with a brain tumour following an MRI scan in hospital.

Following brain surgery he was left with loss of vision and side effects including fatigue, aching limbs and rapid weight gain.

At secondary school John was unable to join in PE with the other youngsters and felt that “nobody understood”.

The brain tumour returned and John underwent gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions.

He was also diagnosed with epilepsy.

Over the next seven years John underwent 15 brain operations, infections and problems with cysts.

However, despite expecting to lose his remaining vision through radiotherapy, he went on to regain some vision in his right eye.

John, who lives in Shrewsbury, found out about the YCT Bournemouth centre from his Macmillan nurse.

He said: “I hadn’t met other people who had had similar treatment to me apart from in hospital. Coming to YCT was great. I didn’t feel so alone or misunderstood.

“When you meet people who have been through treatment and come out the other side, it gives you hope.

“It feels so good to get away from hospital to do things which my treatment has stopped me doing like water-skiing and go-karting.”

• To donate to the Youth Cancer Trust send a cheque made payable to Youth Cancer Trust to YCT Appeal, Tracy Ann House, 5, Studland Road, Alum Chine, Bournemouth, BH4 8HZ.