Linslade student Bethany Sinfield was told she’d never walk or talk again after a devastating stroke two years ago.
But on Sunday, December 7, the Cedars Upper School teenager will prove the medical profession wrong when she takes part in Santa’s Little Helpers run at Richmond Park.
The 2km distance – in aid of the Stroke Association – will probably be a challenge.
But the Linslade lass will tackle it with the strength and courage that prompted one nurse to call her “Our little miracle”.
Bethany, now 19, still struggles with mobility and speech. But she compensates for both with a stunningly sweet smile.
“I never leave home without it,” she grins.
She’d be the first to admit life has been tough since that grim night in September 2012.
“I woke up needing a drink but couldn’t swallow,” she recalls. “I also had an awful migraine.
“I tried to get to my parents’ room but kept falling. When I tried to shout, only a whisper came.
“The left hand side of my head was so hot, I literally felt like I had a fire in my brain.
“When the paramedic arrived, I had trouble getting the words out. My mind was blank, as if someone had turned it off.”
Bethany was taken to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital. Although she was showing signs of stroke this was dismissed as she was considered too young. A CT scan revealed nothing because the clot was in her brainstem.
She was transferred to Addenbrooke’s and then to Northwick Park where her parents were told she would always need a feeding tube and that while she might learn to stand, she would not be able to walk.
Brave Bethany was determined to regain some sense of normality and says: “Initially I asked ‘Why me?’ Then I started to improve and never thought about it again.”
Her future is also on hold: “Before my stroke I wanted to do veterinary nursing, now I think I’d like to study neuro psychology.
“But first I need to go back to college to finish my A levels.”
Bethany is surprisingly pragmatic about what’s happened. “It feels like I’ve had to slam the brakes on my former life and reverse down a different route,” she says.
“It’s been very hard but all the nurses, therapists and consultants I’ve come across have been utterly amazing. I’ve never felt alone, my parents have been there for me 100 percent.
“And I’m so grateful to all of them for never giving up on me.”
She’s taking part in the charity challenge with one aim in mind: “I want people to know that a stroke is not the end, there definitely is life afterwards – however it turns out.”
> If you’d like to sponsor this courageous teenager, visit www.justgiving.com/Bethany-Sinfield2