A TEENAGER recovering from a brain tumour has “taken her life back” following an “inspiring” canal boating trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

Sixteen-year-old Mary Isherwood, of Sully, took part in the trip in Essex from October 29 to November 2.

Mary Isherwood underwent more than two years of treatment at the Children’s Hospital for Wales after being diagnosed with a Craniopharyngioma, a tumour found in the lower part of the brain and close to the pituitary gland, in April 2014.

The two years since have proved tough with her missing so much school, friends moving on and she said people treating her differently.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust supports young people aged eight to 24 to rebuild their confidence after cancer.

Mary joined three other young people also in recovery from brain tumours, to enjoy the benefits of being on a boat in a small group with others who have been through similar things, with more one-to-one support.

Mary said: “You don’t meet people in the same situation as you every day but, on this trip, we feel like normal people. In the outside world we feel like the odd ones out with brain tumours, but when we get on the boat we can be ourselves, we don’t have to be people we’re not and it’s just so nice. These are people who understand how I feel. I understand how they feel and we can share it. You have to go through the experience (of treatment) to know what it feels like, you can’t assume. I feel so much more confident, that I can take the tumour and rule it. I’m taking my life back.”

The quartet took full advantage of the chance to make new friends, push their physical boundaries opening locks and helming and learning new skills as they cruised the rivers Stort and Lee, passing through the Rye Meads Nature Reserve, on a specially adapted, 67ft canal boat, Red Watch, run by the charity CanalAbility.

As well as baking and getting involved in all the different aspects of canal boating, the young people celebrated Hallowe’en by making hats and carving pumpkins, although their creations met a messy end getting squashed on a low bridge.

They also undertook day-to-day tasks they might not ordinarily do themselves, such as getting dressed, showering and cooking, promoting confidence and independence.

Mary added: “Now I want to be able to go out like my sisters do and have the friends that invite you out at weekends.

“It’s hard when I’m sat at home; I just want to be out too.

“People don’t think I’m well enough, but I’m fine, my personality is still the same. I want to do this trip over and over again. The people I met on the trip I will keep in contact with, because they’re inspiring and the most amazing people ever.”