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A few days before her eighteenth birthday Kelly joined the Army. Three years later, her successful military career came crashing down when she collapsed at work.

Find out how Kelly found the strength to face her daily battles and become an inspiration to her young daughter, Bethany.

“I joined the Army in 1998, a few days before my eighteenth birthday. Starting off as Private I progressed to Corporal and by 2001, I was preparing for a tour of Iraq.

“The next thing I knew, I was in hospital - I hadn’t even been ill. I remember my left hand feeling tingly, being sent to the medical centre, then collapsing.

“Lying in bed whilst my unit left for Iraq was devastating. From there, I spent the following two years in hospital whilst doctors tried to work out what was wrong with me – the uncertainty looming over my career and health was mentally and physically exhausting.

“Eventually, I was diagnosed with the blood condition Antiphosphilipid Syndrome (APS), which causes an increased risk of blood clots. It led to me suffering two strokes, resulting in a brain injury which causes memory loss and visual impairment.

“APS also led to my medical discharge. I found out on the day I finished my rehabilitation at Headley Court - it was the worst day of my life.

“Since then, APS continues to cause many challenges for me and my family – both medical and day-to day; a big challenge is time.

“In the Army you’re taught to always be five minutes early, but now I’m always five minutes late. My memory and time keeping used to be phenomenal, but the brain damage means I struggle with both. Combined with my visual impairment, everyday tasks also take longer– like cooking dinner. I can’t simply whizz something up – I need to do things step-by-step, which often means my young daughter, Bethany, ends up waiting for her tea. Even the simplest thing, like getting the key in the front door takes time.

“Being a mum and keeping a routine is very important to me, so things like this leave me feeling useless and disheartened. But since reaching out to Help for Heroes I’ve discovered new ways to face these challenges.

“At one point I was apart from my family and feeling very low, so I reached out to Hidden Wounds. Having that psychological support was wonderful and made me feel so much better.

“The Sports Recovery Team have also improved my mental and physical wellbeing by providing opportunities I once thought impossible – like scuba diving. Despite my blood condition they made it possible, and the experience was amazing.

“Another huge landmark was taking part in the Invictus Games. To represent my country, not in the way I’d hoped in the Army but in another, important way was incredible.

“Whilst I was competing, Bethany learnt to walk. As a two-year-old with Cerebral Palsy, we were told she’d probably never walk or ride a bike. Since seeing what I’ve achieved, thanks to Help for Heroes’ support, she’s done both and become so determined.

“Every day still brings challenges, but my experiences through the Charity continue to give me the strength to battle through. Now I believe I can do anything I put my mind to – which in turn, I hope will inspire my daughter to do the same."

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