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Andrew’s NF1 Story

30 June 2020

My name is Andrew, I was first diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis when I was born. As a result of NF1 I have a curved spine and have been diagnosed with dyslexia. Ever since I was young, I’ve had regular visits to a specialist hospital where I received check ups and physiotherapist sessions. Because of my curved spine I have suffered with lower back pain from a young age.

I did struggle at school particularly in Maths and English. This became more of a challenge in secondary school as the pace of learning increased and I found it hard to keep up with my friends. That said, I really enjoyed subjects such as PE & History. After school I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. Most of the male role models in my family are in the armed forces, so I decided to join. I did this for 1 year but was told that this wasn’t going to be an option for me. As I had always enjoyed PE at school, I decided to go to college and study sport. I did four years studying which enabled me to go university.

Getting into university was one of the biggest achievements in my life so far, I never expected to be accepted onto a course let alone graduate. I studied a BA Honours in Coaching & Physical Education at Marjon University, graduating in summer 2014. University was great! I made a lot of friends and shared a lot of experiences with some really great people. I was fully supported throughout my journey by amazing friends, lecturers and the student support team.

I am now working as a Learning Support Assistant at a secondary school and have put together an assembly to present to the children and members of staff about Neurofibromatosis. It is important to me to raise awareness of what NF is and how it affects the lives of people with it and other nerve related illnesses & disabilities. I also want to show that just because you suffer from a condition it doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve things in life.

Outside of work I do quite a bit of football coaching and am a qualified level 2 coach. I really enjoy this and have been doing this with Marjon Football club since my second year at university.

Through coaching I have been able to volunteer at Plymouth Argyle Football Club for a number of years within their centre of excellence.

I have recently set myself a challenge to run the Plymouth 10K – which will hopefully be going ahead in October. I will be running to raise money for Nerve Tumours UK and help to raise awareness about Neurofibromatosis as I have spoken to friends, colleagues, fellow football coaches and the players that I coach and they had never heard of the condition. I want to complete the challenge as fast as possible; running is something I have never really liked or enjoyed doing but it will be a good achievement.

By openly talking about my struggles with NF1 throughout my life I hope it will connect with others in a similar position to me. You can overcome challenges in life and succeed in your goals; like I did going to university & becoming a football coach. I want to act as an inspiration for others that may be struggling and realise that they can do it too!

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