As a young law student, Amy’s attention was focused on her studies. When she developed a dry, itchy cough and began to lose weight rapidly, she thought it was the stress of her degree. When a relative suggested TB, she felt sure the BCG vaccine she’d had as a child protected her from this ‘disease of the past’.
But it turned out Amy had TB, and the long delay in diagnosis ultimately led to her losing a lung.
Amy has experienced both sides of peer support, which our TB Action Group provides to people going through treatment. “When I was diagnosed with TB, I had to put my university studies on hold, and was feeling isolated and frustrated at the lack of support available. I wanted to talk to someone personally affected by the illness,” she says.
“I called TB Alert, and was put in touch with Anna. We spoke mainly over email and Facebook and then met up. I felt less alone knowing Anna was there and the fact that she’d completed her treatment and graduated from university gave me hope for the future.” Amy eventually finished treatment, graduated from university and is now at the Race Equality Foundation.
Last year, she provided peer support for Abid, a Pakistani migrant receiving follow-up care for TB at an immigration removal centre in Manchester. “I visited Abid three times, giving him moral support and reassurance. We talked about his care and treatment, and I also gave him more practical support by liaising with his solicitor.”
As well as providing peer support, Amy now acts as a patient advocate for TB Alert – helping to prevent others from suffering unnecessarily as she did.