A Wimbledon teenager with primary Lymphedema won her battle to get her own car this year and says her work as a filmmaker is what gets her through.
Bella Roberts, 17, is a suffer of primary Lymphedema, a condition that affects 1 in 6,000 people.
Bella won the 2019 Vlogstar challenge in October, where she was one of 15 to make it to the final. She has not allowed her condition to stop her achieving her dreams.
She said: “My condition means I can’t walk or stand for long periods of time. In June I got a car, that has made my life ten times easier, so my car has really given me some independence, especially as I’m going to university next year.
“I had to fight in the courts to get it, but a year’s worth of fighting has seriously benefited me for life. For me this car isn’t just to ‘look cool’ it’s my independence and that means more than anything to me.”
Lymphoedema is a long-term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs.
Bella continued: “I grew up living in a hospital bed for long periods of time. Because my parents were busy with work and looking after my siblings, they weren’t able to stay with me all the time.
“And there isn’t much else to do when you are in hospital other than watch films, so that’s what I did. I would watch films day in, day out. And it distracted me. Took me away from the reality of where I was.
“I think this is where my love of film came from, watching Robin Williams dressed as an old woman dancing to the tune of Dude looks like a lady made me laugh and took me away to a happy place.”
According to the NHS Lymphoedema is believed to affect more than 200,000 people in the UK. Primary lymphoedema is rare and affects around 1 in every 6,000 people. Secondary lymphoedema is much more common.
One of Bella’s inspirations is world-renowned film director Chris Columbus.
“Chris Columbus directed one of my favourite films Mrs. Doubtfire, as well as Home Alone and many more films that made my childhood and grew my love of film. I owe him everything,” she said.
Bella has a YouTube Channel with 500 subscribers and uses her platform to showcase her life, what is normal to some is a challenge for Bella.
Bella added: “My life can be hard at times; I honestly don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t make films.
“My life has been better because I take medication every day, it drains away some of the fluid. Although you can never fully get rid of the fluid, the medication helps to makes life a little easier.”
Bella remains optimistic and positive about her life and won’t allow anything to stop her.
She said: “I want to be a film director, to do what I love, make films that will go down in history and to just generally live a happy and successful life.
“If you spend your whole time thinking your life is a sob story then you won’t get anything done.
“I’m lucky, there are people much worse off than me. I’m thankful for my parents, who never give up on me and the support from family.”