Exactly 14 years ago, I was to walk out of my house for the very last time... I was going out for the night with my boyfriend at the time, Gianluca who was over from Italy. Earlier that day, I called my mom and said that I didn’t know what to do about going out as I wanted to take Gianluca to show him Brick Lane Market on the Sunday morning and I knew there was no chance of that if we went out partying!
We went out to meet my dear friends, Sam and Diana and their boyfriends too. We met them before going to the club for a few drinks and as usual were having a great night with lots of laughs.
To cut a long story short, we arrived at a nightclub and within approximately 20 minutes of being in there, I was dancing to my favorite song, at that time, “Lola’s Theme” by The Shapeshifters. It was that moment when tragedy struck. I felt a massive “thud” on my head and fell backwards with my head hitting the floor first.
I still remember everything like yesterday; I was lying on the floor, completely paralyzed and all that I could move was my eyelids. I looked up and saw that a draped curtain had fallen from a balcony above me and realized then that someone had fallen on me. The witness that came forward (luckily for me), told police that a 24 year old, unknown man sat on the rail of the balcony then passed him his cloakroom ticket and then proceeded to do a backflip, landing on me!
Everyone was telling me to get up but I couldn’t and also found it difficult to breathe. Paramedics arrived and put me in the ambulance and rushed me to Kings College Hospital in Denmark Hill, London. All I could think about in the ambulance was “OK, this is it. At least I’ll be with my Dad”, who had passed away the year before.
I can still remember being run in on the stretcher, as it was like a scene out of the BBC television series, Casualty, except that this was bloody real and at that point, I thought I was a goner! Immediately, I was rushed in for surgery on my neck to stabilize my spinal cord which took several hours.
The day after my operation, I was sent to Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Unit and that’s where I stayed for ten months. I literally could write a book about that, you honestly couldn’t make it up! My wonderful family visited me everyday, despite the 2 hour journey.
There were very dark days and stuff that I really want to forget during that period. I didn’t want to carry on. I was told I had a C4/5 Spinal cord injury (complete paralysis from the shoulders down) and would live the rest of my life in a wheelchair, completely losing my independence. This one act of a person’s stupidity, had changed my life forever.
Prior to my injury, I was having the time of my life, working in the beauty industry in London and meeting some amazing people along the way with many celebrity clientèle. I also won “Party Girl of the Year” in a national newspaper, was whisked off to Spain to film for Sky TV and did some modeling too. Chasing my dream job of being a TV presenter… traveling the world, having such an active life and I never stopped dancing!
The most devastating thing is that I’ve lost lots of my friends from the hospital, along the way. They have passed away due to complications of a spinal cord injury. I’m fighting this fight on behalf of them, too. Also, I have friends and met people who have been injured for over 30 years, surely for these reasons alone there must be more of an urgency for a cure. The longer you have the injury, the more health issues and problems can occur that you often don’t hear about.
The last 14 years have definitely been a struggle and anyone living life as a tetraplegic will tell you that everyday is a mental and physical battle, but I have a very busy life. I keep positive and I’m lucky to have such a wonderful support network! Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
In all honesty, no one really knows how much a spinal cord injury impacts your life and also on your family and loved ones, unless you are going through it. It’s not just me as there are 3 million people living with a spinal cord injury. That’s why we formed the CURE GIRLS. I am a member of the Cure Girls (founded by Loredana Longo) and we want to be the voice for the 3 million people living with paralysis that want a cure! In our group, there are 7 women from across the world and we are all living with different levels of spinal cord injury, working together on a daily basis raising awareness, fundraising, campaigning and supporting research initiatives for a cure for spinal cord injury.
The Cure Girls have collectively raised over £200,000 for research into a reversal for paralysis. I’ve personally cycled over 1,500 miles on my FES bike, done a skydive, organized parties and events, all to raise money for our cause. I’ve appeared on radio and television in the UK and Brazil, to raise awareness too.
I’ve just recently been made an Ambassador for the charity, Spinal Research, which I’m really excited about and look forward to working with them to raise money and more awareness, wherever possible. You can visit their website and see their work: https://www.spinal-research.org/
Cure Girls try to shatter the perceptions that many have of those who are living with a spinal cord injury and fighting for a cure. We are not depressed nor deluded and we accept what destiny has given us. We simply want to create awareness by highlighting the importance of a cure and make a difference for all those affected by this devastating injury. Check out our blog where we tell the truth about spinal cord injury: www.curegirls.com and you can keep up to date with all the latest research news!
I’ve also got a website so you can see what I’ve been up to in the last 14 years here: www.LollyMack.com
I’ve met with researchers from all over the world and the evidence is clear, it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN there will be a cure. It’s disgusting that the charities who fund research in the UK are NOT government funded. They need every penny they can get as they rely on donations from the public. In the UK alone every 8 hours someone is told that they will never walk again.
I want to experience and have as much fun in life as possible in the meantime BUT I will not stop fighting until CHRONIC SPINAL CORD INJURY BECOMES CURABLE!