I was born on 11th April 1979 at the UCH Hospital in London. My mother (Greek-Cypriot) and my father, whose parents were Irish, separated whilst I was still a baby. I was brought up in Camden Town until the age of three by my father who juggled a life of work and college to look after me whilst living with my grandparents in a three-bedroom flat in Camden.
I moved back with my Mum at the age of 3 where I lived until the age of 13. I moved to Bath when I was 13 then back to Hampstead in 1997. I now live in Barnet and spent nine months over in Thailand in 2005 which was supposed to be a permanent move but ended up being cut short due to my diagnosis.
Both my father and mother (John & Angela) moved on in their relationships. John met Zoe and Angela met Ricky and have since married and had children of their own.
I went to Rhyl Street Primary School and Camden School for Girls for the first year.
My upbringing was like any normal child from a separated mother and father would have experienced. There was nothing out of the ordinary, in fact probably better than most.
At the age of 12 I was to experience something that would change my life forever. Without going into too much detail I stayed at a friend’s houses for a sleepover and on this night I was abused by my friend’s father; Bobby Lee of Chalk Farm. I feel to name and shame is the way forward in these situations!
Bobby Lee lived in Queen's Crescent, Chalk Farm which was just around the corner from where I lived with my Mum and so often bumped into him. Scared and speechless my mother tried to guard me from him and always made sure that the people around knew who he was. I remember on one encounter a market stall holder was throwing cabbages at him.
I was dragged through court after court bringing this man to justice but justice was never met. Bobby, then known to be involved with the triads was let off with a fine of £200 and a six-month suspended sentence.
At the time my Dad had a house in Bath; which he had bought as an investment and a pension. We used to go there at weekends to decorate it; however, this is when I started to turn nasty.
Mum and I would fight all the time. She used to try and restrain me and on occasions would slap me round the face to try and control me. I would be punching her, kicking her and pulling her hair out; I was uncontrollable. On several occasions I ran away to my Dad’s and of course being a 13 year old with an attitude the lies all came out, I used to tell my Dad that Mum was beating me. The police came and in the end took me away from her. One of my Dad’s friends was called and picked me up. I was not allowed to see either of my parents until the whole thing was investigated. I lived with Bridget in Muswell Hill for about two weeks still pursuing the fact that Mum was beating me. In the end Mum gave up and said that I could go and live with my Dad. That’s when we moved to Bath.
Dad put me in a school in Bath and at first everything seemed to calm down. It was a mixed school so of course I was into the boys. Dad lived with Zoe and had done since I was a child, it was when Dad was offered a job to work on the Isle of Wight that things started going terribly wrong. He would work away during the week and come home at weekends. Looking back on events now, Dad and Zoe both did a really great job of bringing me up, they always helped me with my homework, took me out, allowed me to stay with friends and I always had the latest things even though they were second hand.
I liked to ride my bike, I did a lot of that on my own along the River Avon, and I met a few people that way too. I had piano lessons, trampoline classes and went swimming once a week so to be honest my time with them was really very good. It was when Dad went away to work that I started to rebel. I remember one night sitting in the living room doing my homework with my Dad and Zoe and I had a massive tantrum throwing books all over the place, one of which hit Zoe in the face. This all stemmed from not being able to understand a mathematical question and although Zoe was trying to explain I just would not listen.
Looking back now I now realise why I was like that and it was all to do with people taking control. Zoe was taking control of a situation by explaining something to me, where I wasn't listening and winding myself up I lost control of myself.
So that was how it started again with the tantrums and physical behaviour I ended up taking a huge overdose and was in hospital for a few weeks. They made me see a counsellor and even with her I couldn’t control myself. It did help slightly but I soon stopped attending my sessions. I turned 15 and was too busy going out and getting drunk in the back fields with my friends and messing around with my then boyfriend Pete.
Zoe became pregnant and for me that was it. My life at the time felt like it was over. My Dad was not around all the time and all of a sudden there was a baby on the scene grabbing all the attention. I didn't handle it very well at all.
I was still in school at the time just about to do my GCSE’s, I went to see my social worker and he put me in a bed-sit at the other end of town. I obtained government grants to help me out and when I left school I got a job with one day a week at college. That’s where I managed to get my NVQ Level 2 in Business Studies.
By this time I had moved from the bed-sit into a B&B. The B&B was ok because the people who ran it were parents of some guy I knew from school. My Mum would come and stay every so often and Dad would always visit. I was in the B&B for about three months and then I was offered a flat. It was a really nice flat but not decorated too well; although it probably was for the time. I went from job to job not finding anything that I could really get my teeth into. I ended up jobless and signing on at the age of 16 so all this was in a space of a year.
I was going out all the time, I had no money and was doing a bar job cash-in-hand in the evenings.
I used to go to a Jungle club in Roxbury’s, the night club in the centre of town, on a Wednesday night every week for about a year.
At the age of 17 I left Bath and moved back to London. I moved within a couple of days, one minute I was there the next I was gone. I had again gone through another ordeal: I was raped, not by one but by two people.
I packed up a huge bag and left the next day for London. I went straight to my Mum’s in Hampstead where she was staying at the time. I was in a state, Mum couldn’t understand it. I told her that I was moving back and that I never wanted to go back to the flat ever again. The next day I went to Oxford Street and walked around all the shops looking for a job. I got offered one straight away working in Oasis in Regent Street; the job was set to start on the Monday.
It was Saturday and the following day Mum and Ricky (my step Dad) came with me to Bath to collect the rest of my personal belongings. I had to leave everything else there, the washing machine, bed , etc. I handed the keys in and that was the last I saw of that flat.
Six months later I was slowly getting back into the swing of things. The job was going well and I had made new friends, life seemed to be improving, but it wasn’t.
I had developed this new skill: it was to bottle everything up to the point of breaking. Before I used to let it out in aggression, this time I was taking overdoses and having black-outs without even knowing. Before I knew it I was back in hospital. Mum had admitted me after she found me passing out after having taken a whole packet of paracetamol. I was admitted to the Nicole Ward at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. I’m not sure how long I was there because that whole phase of my life was a black-out. All I remember is being in a bed next to really mentally ill people who would swing from side to side and they would scream out in the middle of the night. The doctors put me on Prozac, the anti-depressant drug along with some really strong injections which were to stop me from harming myself. As soon as the Prozac started working I was out. I had a nervous breakdown and I was only 17.
My life had become very surreal and it didn't stop there. I went to visit my Mum in London for the weekend with a friend. We were travelling on the top deck of a bus one evening and a drunk man, in his 40s, suddenly lunged at me. He was on top of me, holding me down and trying to hit me. My friend Sarah was screaming "somebody help, somebody help" most of the people on the bus just looked on but one guy came to my rescue and pulled him off. The driver stopped the bus and asked if I was ok. We fled from the bus and got the next one home. The police were called and the guy was later caught in a pizza restaurant causing a disturbance. This went to court as well. I remember the judge passing me a letter that the drunk had written to me in court; it said something about how he was not in a good state of mind at the time and for some reason he thought I was out to get him.
So that is how life began for me, I went through hell. I believe that is why I am the person I am today and although I have faced my biggest challenge yet I will get through it.
Since moving back to London I have settled, I am now my own person. I have overcome the lies and the torment that I put both my friends and family through and I have made a success out of my life.
I worked in property management for 7-8 years, moving up the ladder each time I changed jobs. I was very successful in what I did. I ran teams of 25 people and instigated projects that would make companies millions.
I left my job in June 2005 having just got myself out of debt, I decided it was time for me to travel and experience things I could only dream of. I left and moved to Thailand, where I lived for nine months and I can easily say that the time I spent there was the best time of my life.
I came back to the UK in November 2006. It wasn’t safe in Thailand for a girl on her own; having taken all my belongings with me I came back with none.
The rest of my story I believe you already know through newspaper articles and/or magazines.
Honestly, I am just like everybody else out there. I’m not perfect but I don’t claim to be either. I do believe that I am a much better person today than I ever have been. What doesn’t break you can only make you stronger?
I now intend to live my life as fully as possible and I am a strong believer that my life’s path had been set out for me, this was my purpose…. To be diagnosed with a brain tumour and to do what I am doing now in raising both awareness and money for a well needed cause.
I don’t believe in God. I am not sure what I do believe in anymore but I like to think that there are angels, I am quite spiritually minded. I believe there are ghosts and I also believe that someone is watching over me now, my Guardian Angel.
Nothing in my life has ever run smoothly and I had some gruelling months last year but things have slowly progressed and here I am today telling my story which I hope will helps others a long their way.
Since writing my biography, I have given birth to a Miracle Baby Girl 'Ruby Margaret Christine Forster,' I have got engaged and I have admitted finally that I am suffering with depression.
There is so much to tell and I just haven't got my head around how I am going to write it all. So as part of my goal set by my councillor I will be posting short video blogs on all my social media.
Please keep listening and watching. I'm just an every day woman with ambition and strive. I grow stronger every day, and nothing ever gets in my way.
Did you know, by following, liking, commenting and sharing posts, the more people will see my posts and engage with me. All I want to do is to tell my story, a real life experience and hope that I may encourage others to have strength no matter what their circumstances are. We are only human.