47-year-old Chrissie works full time as a store manager and lives in Farnborough, Hampshire, in a one bedroom housing association flat.
I hadn’t been right for three years. I started struggling at work. I kept forgetting things. I put things down and forgot where I’d left them. I put things in the fridge that didn’t belong there. I even put money in the bin.
I kept going back to the doctor but he just prescribed more migraine tablets.
I was working but I don’t know where my money was going. I was losing my memory and things weren’t right, and I just couldn’t work out what I had to pay.
I spoke to a lady at the housing association and told her that I didn’t feel right and was concerned about my rent. I just wanted to talk it through. I was losing the plot basically.
The lady I spoke to said she couldn’t help me.
In January 2015, my housing association sent a letter saying they were evicting me for non-payment of rent. My property was up on the bidding site even before I’d been evicted.
Then in March I had a stroke which actually saved my life. When the hospital scanned me after the stroke, they found a brain tumour, right in the middle of my brain stem.
In June the surgeon signed me off work for three months, until after I’d had the operation to remove the tumour, because stress could trigger fits, which could kill me.
I’m a store manager so my job is very stressful.
But I still had to face going to court and possibly losing my home.
The Brain Tumour Charity near me here in Farnborough, advised me to ring Shelter. They described Shelter as the “umbrella” for housing, I remember that.
I rang Shelter’s helpline who arranged for me to have a call back. I had to fill in some paperwork, which my son and a friend had to help me with, as I was away with the fairies!
Then I received a call from a lovely lady called Amanda, she calmed me down and I explained what I was going through.
Amanda said: “Just stay calm, we’ll get it sorted”. She did a breakdown of my finances for me. I remember that we were on the phone for a good hour and a half, especially with my memory. She said: “You haven’t paid your rent for ten months”. I had no idea. But she understood.
I must have been spending my money somewhere. I’ve since discovered that I was drawing vast amounts of money out of the bank, but I don’t know where it went. I’m just hoping I find a windfall somewhere!
Amanda told me every step of the way what to do and who to speak to and where to go.
She explained that a suspended order would allow me to stay in my home. She helped me to prepare for court. She did a breakdown of my finances for me and sent all the paperwork through to court.
In court I was really ill. I had to keep going out of the room because the lighting there made me sick. The judge said to the housing association “Do you know what this lady’s going through?” And they said: “But she has to pay her rent”.
I was granted a suspended order at court which means I can stay in my home.
I have to pay an extra £250 a month in order to pay off my arrears, although I did get that reduced until I was able to go back to work.
Amanda was absolutely brilliant, I don’t know what I would have done without her. She kept checking up on me and told me not stress about it, she said “You’re poorly as it is.”
I had my brain tumour removed in September. It was quite messy, I have a big scar. I went back to work after four weeks. I couldn’t afford not to.
Apparently I’d been having a series of mini strokes. So what I thought were migraines were actually strokes.
I went back to hospital just before Christmas to see my surgeon and he told me I was cancer-free. That was the most incredible news.
Fatigue is my main problem now. I walk with a limp and I can’t walk more than about 15-20 minutes, as my right side is still very weak from the stroke. But I’m largely back to normal, thank God.
I knew for a long time that I wasn’t right. But I wasn’t getting help from anywhere. It was lucky for me that I had the stroke or I might not be here now. I’m grateful I’ve got the limp because I’m alive.
My flat is lovely. It’s on the first floor which was tricky when I had crutches, but I love my little place.
I can’t praise Amanda enough, what she did for me, because she practically did everything, and she did it at a time that I really needed the help. If I’d been left on my own I’d be homeless.
Shelter gives free expert advice on all aspects of housing.
If you’re at risk of homelessness or face eviction, you can call the helpline on 0808 800 4444.
Our helpline is free and open every day.