Katie Jayne Spencer from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, had to deal with the death of her little sister nine years ago, and last year had to drop out of university because of a mystery illness. At only 20 years old she has had to find strength in herself to overcome more than any young adult should have.
When she was 11 she was in a car accident. Her, her sister Stacey and her aunt were on their way to Skegness when they were hit by a lorry as their aunt tried to overtake it. Her sister died at the scene and Katie was air lifted to hospital. Here she was treated for her physical injuries but overcoming the death of Stacey was a longer and more painful struggle.
Because her aunt was driving the car she was blamed by Katie’s side of the family for what happened. This went to court and she was found guilty of Death by Dangerous Driving. She got a suspended sentence and a two year driving ban, a sentence Katie feels is, “just not enough.”
This justice did not help the conflict between the two sides of the family and on one occasion Katie saw her in town. “I had a panic attack” and said her aunt accused her of shouting “murderer”. This is but one of the confrontations between the divided family.
Stacey, Katie’s little sister
To help overcome the ordeal Katie saw a psychiatrist but did not feel she could talk to him, or her family. She said: “I felt I had to stay strong, I didn’t want to upset them.” This was until the pain of keeping it all inside “exploded” and she spoke to her mum about everything. She eventually realised that, “dwelling on it won’t change what happened; you just have to get on with things.”
Katie has now come to terms with the ordeal and has campaigned to help raise awareness for the air ambulance that saved her life. She speaks more of what happened and thinks it has made her, “a stronger person.”
But, last year at Christmas Katie became ill. She had lost her appetite and being sick was a daily problem. She was taken to the doctors on many occasions but even from blood tests they could only say that she was slightly anaemic.
Weeks later she collapsed and was taken to hospital where she had to have a blood transfusion. She stayed there for months before she was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. During this time she had daily, and sometimes intrusive, tests to try and diagnose her illness. Her weight dropped dramatically and the emotional strain was constant; “I thought that was it, I thought my life was over.”
However, once she got her diagnosis and treatment she built up her strength and is out enjoying life again. She is back at university studying Law with Psychology, has a great social life and, despite her fear of cars, has just got her driver’s licence. She says she is, “trying to live life to the fullest, because Stacey never got that chance.”
I interviewed Katie to find out how she felt during these experiences and what advice she would like to offer to anybody else. She was emotional but stayed strong which shows just how far along she has come in the past 9 years.
By Sarah Walters