I’m not sure I’ll ever stop being as astonished as I am when I look at my blog stats, and see a couple of things. For a start, the number of you wonderful people who have taken time — however much or little — to read something that I have written: that amazes me, and never fails to make me smile. I also can’t believe that, at the time of this post, I’ve been blogging for over two-and-a-half years — time has just flown by!
Those of you who have been here for a while will know that, for the majority of my blogging life, i’ve chosen to be anonymous; I recently decided to reveal my identity (which sounds much more impressive when put that way), simply because I didn’t feel the need to be anonymous any longer. My confidence since beginning to write here has skyrocketed, at least in regards to me publishing posts online, and hence I am now Kel by choice, or Kelsey Trevett by full name.
What I have never written about, however, is, well, my story. I’m not talking about some overly-dramatic retelling of my year, or a sob-story to make you all like me. No, I’m talking about my story — my life, and the things that have stood out to me, as highlights, over the last 16-and-a-half years. I’ve never really seen it as a post I needed to write;it’s not especially important or necessary information as far as understanding my blog posts go, but it’s something I wanted to share with you, because it’s all part of me. I don’t know how interesting it will be, or how much you’ll enjoy it (if at all), but I want to publish this post, just about my life.
My name is Kelsey Trevett, and I was born in 2001, just outside London. I was the second child of my parents; my sister, who is now at university, is almost three years older than me. Both she and I were 10 days late — a fact which I find suspicious, and hence secretly suspect that the midwife was simply pretty rubbish at maths. Regardless, it’s ironic, because being late to literally anything is one of my worst nightmares, and something which I actively avoid at all costs.
I was quite an ill child (yeah, this is the sob-story paragraph). My parents repeatedly noticed oddities with my eyes, including them making weird motions, and my inability to look at light or cameras. The doctor assessed that I was a ‘lazy baby’, which I will call insulting, because I’m not lazy.
OK, maybe I am, just a little bit…
Upon a return visit, I was almost instantly sent to a London hospital, and my parents were told that I had a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma (for you medical students out there). It’s a genetic cancer, although there is no history of it in my family, which suggests that a genetic mutation led to me being the start of the ‘chain’.
This led to me, at 16 weeks old and after chemotherapy, having my left eye removed; I have an artificial eye which, contrary to mainstream belief, is NOT made of glass; rather, it is made of plastic. I had poorer-than-average vision in my right eye too, which was monitored, but was assessed as stable, until age 5. Then, they discovered tumours in that eye too, and just a year later, after radioactive plaque treatment and finally some unsuccessful surgery which led to me losing all of my sight in that eye, my right eye was removed in 2008. Since then, I have had two, PLASTIC artificial eyes, and despite some medical complications with my right eye socket, I have been ‘well’ since, besides having anywhere between 2-4 operations per year between 2009-2017.
There are some really hilarious things that can crop up as a result of having a visual impairment, especially in relation to people who just don’t have a clue. One of my personal favourites was a nursery teacher, who I can all-too-clearly remember, even now. At this point, I could probably see around 2-3m in front of me on a good day, without much clarity or detail. This teacher, very confidently, approached me one day, and asked, “What’s at the other end of the classroom, Kelsey?” I knew, from memory, that on the wall of the other end of the classroom, there was an illustration of the Ugly Duckling story — I’m sure you’re all familiar. I told her as much, at which point she spoke to my mum (who was there to collect me), to tell her that the SPECIALIST CONSULTANTS were wrong, and that I could see 30 ft across the classroom! In reality, I’d have trouble making something out at 3 ft; 30 ft is a distance which I was never able to see and, surprise surprise, still struggle with today.
I feel I cannot tell this story without adding here that this very same school, just two years later, as my sight was deteriorating to a point where we knew I would likely go blind in a matter of months, decided that teaching me braille would be a waste of time; I could read size 72-84 print, and so that was what I would do. I ended up leaving this school halfway through Year 3 (aged 7), due to a teacher who, through her ignorance and lack of willingness to learn, essentially bullied me. I spent a term (4 months) out of school, before restarting at a new — and frankly excellent — primary school, where I finished my primary education.
When I was 8, something happened to me that, to this day, I just can’t explain. (No, I wasn’t struck by lightning.) I feel slightly strange writing about it here to be honest, as it’s a huge part of the reason I chose to remain anonymous online — I’ll explain why a bit later on.
In mid 2010, just as I had started at my new primary school, a TV company got in touch, and explained that they were making a documentary about children with visual impairments, and asked if my family and I would be interested in participating. We agreed, and they visited the house and me, to get some ‘demo footage’ to take back to the producers. A few weeks later, my parents received a call which they relayed to me a little time after. The TV documentary was, in effect, a hoax; the ‘TV company’ was the Pride of Britain awards, an annual award show hosted on national UK TV, celebrating members of the public for things that they have done. Someone — and to this day, we don’t know who — nominated me for a Pride of Britain award, and they were calling to tell us that, in November 2010, I would receive the Child of Courage Pride of Britain award.
It was incredible — I visited Downing Street (and of course got a picture sat in the Prime Minister’s chair in the cabinet); I ate fancy food at a Park Street hotel in London, and met more celebrities than I knew existed. I shared a table with the then-still-together girlband The Saturdays, who really kindly stayed in touch through letters for a couple of years afterwards. I was presented the award by the X Factor judges of the time: it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. To this day, I still don’t quite understnad what I did, though, to become Child of Courage.
Google my name, and the first thing you will find is Pride of Britain. It is plastered all over the Internet, pictures and video footage, interviews and articles. I am honoured to have such a wonderful award to my name, but I chose, when starting this blog, to remain anonymous, primarily because of this Internet information. The last thing I wanted when starting out on WordPress was for someone to quickly Google my name, and find out that ‘that blogging dude’ is actually the ‘poor kid who had cancer twice’. I didn’t want the sympathy vote, the pity party: I wanted credit for writing, not for being a sickly kid and a disabled teen.
Also I was 8 and I said that Cheryl Cole was my favourite X Factor judge and honestly I’m not sure the shame and awkwardness will ever leave my soul.
I’ve said that being blind can result in some very strange, laugh-or-cry situations; I’m going to finish with one now. Just over four years ago now, during Year 7. It was Founder’s Day at school — that’s when we’re all supposed to celebrate the founding of our school, etc etc. I managed, on the morning of founder’s Day, to slip from the ladder of my cabin bed, and fall, hitting my eye (albeit plastic) on the corner of a wooden cabinet. Yes, there was blood, and no, I’m not good with blood.
My mum and I went to A&E, and waited to see the nurse. “I’m completely blind,” I explained, “and so my eyes are plastic. There’s probably a build-up of blood behind them though, because of this.”
She proceeded to shine a light in my eyes, asking me if I could see the light. Sometimes, I lose hope.
“We’re sending you to to the eye department,” she announced, almost proudly. Thank God — someone who might just have a clue about what they’re doing. We were seen almost instantly in the eye department; I asked the friendly nurse where we were off to, as we walked down the coridor. “We’re just going to do an eye test on you,” she smiled.
There was a poster on the wall, just above her head: “Please don’t hit our staff.”
There you have it, then. That’s probably the most I’ve ever written about me, as a person, offline. I hope you enjoyed it, and found it interesting or informative. If not, think of it this way: I’ve created an extra webpage, which you can now print and use as fuel for a fire or as makeshift confetti. Each to their own.