In her youth, Theresa Hopkins was a teenage hooligan who carried a knife, terrorised her neighbours and prank-called emergency services.
However, when she was 14, she collapsed after school – having suffered a significant bleed on the brain.
Doctors were originally baffled as to what had caused the issue.
They later found she was suffering from arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – and she would suffer from the condition for the next 16 years.
However, doctors made contact with her this week and notified the 30-year-old Linlathen woman that she had beaten the condition.
Theresa said she was “finally able to start living” following the good news – however she has chosen to speak out about her 16-year battle to raise awareness of AVM.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call – I was shocked and then I was really happy because I can finally move on with my life.
“I have had AVM for more than half my life now.
“It was November 8 2002 and I was sitting in my sister’s car. My head began to pound really hard and I passed out.
“I was rushed to hospital and they found out it was a bleed on the brain.
“I was taken into surgery and it was after that they told me I had AVM.
“It was really serious, I could have died.”
However, Theresa wasn’t out of the woods as her young life was blighted by splitting headaches.
She also had significant weakness in her left side – leading to regular injuries from falling over.
The pain led her to develop an addiction to painkillers – with doctors warning she was at risk of overdosing.
She also narrowly avoided death again when she suffered another bleed on the brain two years ago.
Theresa admits she had been in “trouble” throughout her young life – becoming known to police for carrying knives, throwing eggs at neighbours’ windows, prank calling 999 and other “reckless, petty” activities.
But when she was diagnosed with AVM, social workers and doctors realised it had been the root cause of her troubles with the law.
AVM is a rare condition that only affects 1% of the population according to medical experts.
She underwent two gamma knife procedures at a specialist unit in Sheffield.
Gamma knife radiosurgery is a type of radiation therapy used to treat tumours, vascular malformations and other abnormalities in the brain.
The surgery uses specialised equipment to focus about 200 tiny beams of radiation to submillimeter accuracy.
She added: “It was a scary experience as I didn’t know much about what they were doing.
“I was under for six hours the first time but I later found out that the procedure hadn’t worked.”
Theresa then faced her second procedure – which banished AVM from her brain.
She had been unable to plan her future owing to the illness. She now aims to secure a job in forensics – having applied for a college course.
Now she can “finally start living life”.
She added: “I just want to move on with my life, now I can see forward.
“I don’t have to worry that I am going to have a bleed on the brain.
“I don’t have to worry that I could die because of it.”