The Scarborough man who's learning to walk again after 12 years in a wheelchair
A young man who has been confined to a wheelchair for 12 years has proved that giving up is never an option.
Liam Critchett, 23, of Throxenby Lane, was an active young lad who played football and cricket. That was until 2006 when, aged only 11, his life was forever changed by an unexpected diagnosis.
He said: “I kept feeling very ill, I kept waking up with bad headaches and I was struggling to walk so I was referred to hospital for a scan and then I was taken to Leeds.
"That day I was with my aunt because my parents were in London but as soon as they were told they took a taxi to Leeds.
“At the time I didn’t know what was going on but I remember them crying. They all knew.”
That day Liam found out he had a tumour in his spinal cord. Due to its location doctors decided to proceed with chemotherapy but, as Liam explained, it didn’t have the effect they wished.
“I had three drugs which all effectively made me really sick,” he added. “I lost weight, stopped eating and everything like that and then the third one was a trial one and it can either massively affect your hands or your feet and in my case it was my feet.
“The feeling of someone touching my foot would be the worst pain ever so that’s how I stopped walking two weeks in.”
Shortly before finishing his last cycle, on New Year’s Day 2008, Liam suffered from a septic shock and almost died.
It was after that that chemotherapy was stopped, a moment that marked the beginning of years of operations and complications.
However, from 2012 Liam’s health gradually began to improve thanks to physiotherapy.
“I’d been doing physio in Scarborough from when I was 11 till my first year of college but then I was referred to Pinderfields Spinal Injuries Unit in Wakefield for two intense spells. I really enjoyed it but the second time I went it was really busy and I hardly got any attention.
“The staff there told me that I had a lot of potential but if I wanted to achieve more I needed something way more intense and in my head I knew that’s what I wanted.”
Last year Liam started spinal neurological physiotherapy at Flex Health in Hull.
He currently attends three sessions a week which he fits in around his job at Schneider Electric, in Cayton Low Road.
His hard work and determination allowed him to start walking again for the first time in 12 years.
“It’s not as easy as it sounds. A lot of it is confidence so, for example, I’m a lot more confident at physio because I know that I’m in a safe environment but now I’ve started to do some walking at home and outdoors with sticks.
“It’s weird because it’s just not how I’ve been for all I remember in my life, but I knew that I wanted it.
“I don’t see myself living like this forever and eventually I proved to myself that I was right not to give up.”
Liam's fight is not only physical.
As the 23-year-old decided to give it his all with physiotherapy, he knew this would come at a price. His sessions in Hull cost a whopping £13,500 per year, an amount raised through fundraising and grants from the Leeds cancer team.
His latest event was a hog roast night at Stepney Hill Farm earlier this month.
“I sold every ticket and raised an amazing £3,200. The support from family, friends and people at work has just been amazing, it’s been completely different to what I thought.”
If you want to support Liam you can do so HERE.