Wigan teacher considers starting a new chapter after tumour diagnosis

A teacher fears she will have to quit the career she loves and has given up hope of having more children after discovering that the pain in her hip was a tumour.
Emma RimmerEmma Rimmer
Emma Rimmer

Mum-of-one Emma Rimmer always dreamed of becoming a teacher and now works at Hope School and College in Marus Bridge.

But she is in so much discomfort that, despite the best efforts of the school’s leaders, the 33-year-old fears she may have to leave teaching and turn her attention to a new career.

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She has already started selling children’s books through her business The Artist’s Bookshop and could eventually do that full-time.

Emma, who lives in Springfield, said: “I didn’t imagine at 33 that there was ever a possibility I couldn’t work and it’s getting more difficult.

“Going into this year, the school has put so many things in place that I was thinking ‘this is my make-or-break year. If I’m still struggling this year, what do I do


Emma started suffering with sciatic pain after a car crash in November 2015 and received help from a physiotherapist, chiropractor and had acupuncture.

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But the problem continued and after becoming pregnant in 2016, a midwife referred her to a specialist physiotherapist at Wrightington Hospital.

The pain meant she needed crutches to walk from 20 weeks into her pregnancy and plans were made to support her when she gave birth.

It was hoped the problem would disappear after the arrival of her son Luke, but unfortunately it did not.

Emma said: “I remember going for a walk with my husband and being doubled over in pain, thinking this isn’t right.”

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She was referred to a physiotherapist again, but it was only when a different GP referred her for a musculoskeletal examination in August 2018 that the extent of the problem was uncovered by a doctor.

Emma said: “She said my leg didn’t move, there was no movement in my hip. She described it as being like someone in their 80s.

“I was shocked. I knew I couldn’t cross my legs and things like that, but I didn’t realise it was that bad.”

An X-ray and two MRI scans were carried out, which revealed a tumour on Emma’s left hip.

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After a biopsy, she was told she had fibromatosis, a benign tumour more often found in the arms, legs or stomach.

But getting a diagnosis was not the breakthrough that Emma would have hoped, as doctors do not plan to remove it and are still working out how to treat it due to the more unusual position on her hip.

Emma has an MRI scan every three months and the tumour is currently stable.

She takes 26 tablets every day and continues to be in pain, as medical staff at The Christie believe her body does not respond to efforts to relieve the pain.

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She may have the tumour for many years to come and it is having a huge impact on her life, with the growth wrapping itself around the sciatic nerve and causing pain all the way down her leg.

Emma and her husband Mark have abandoned their plans to have more children, as pregnancy hormones can aggravate the tumour and could leave her relying on a wheelchair.

It also affects the way she can play with three-year-old son Luke.

She said: “It was hard to come to terms with the fact I can’t have any more children.

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“This is my one shot at being a mum and it’s not the mum I wanted to be.

“I can’t play on the floor with toys for very long and walking is getting more and more difficult.

“We go to a play centre and it’s my husband who’s playing with him and I’m sitting back watching. It’s heartbreaking.”

Emma has spoken to her superior at Hope School about reducing her working hours, as teaching is becoming more difficult, despite the “amazing” support from the school.

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During the coronavirus lockdown, she decided to consider her options if she does have to leave teaching and she launched her own business, named The Artist’s Bookshop, selling Usborne books.

It continues her link with children and education, as well as providing an alternative career option if she leaves the classroom.

Emma has been selling books through her website and social media since June and is delighted with the response so far.

She said: “I feel like it’s going really well.

“I have teamed up with the Wigan Runner and he does a children’s competition every week, so I’m providing the prize for that.

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“It’s one way of getting my business known to parents and making that connection with them.

“I have been in contact with a few nurseries and I have been able to do some fund-raising, raffles and things like that.

“I have been able to donate £30 worth of free books to four nurseries so far.”

Emma has also teamed up with other mums in business to create bundles for families, for example a Christmas Eve box containing a story, festive activity and treat, while another partnership offers a bundle made up of a book and pyjamas.

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Emma has big plans and would like to donate books as gifts for children in Santa’s grottos, for example, so is appealing for larger businesses interested in supporting the project to get in touch.

While it may not be the long career in teaching that she aimed for, her new business looks to be the perfect new focus for Emma.

“It definitely gave me a lift and boost of self-confidence,” she said.

“I went through a really low period at one point and I feel like that’s helped me to come out of that.”

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To find out more, search for The Artist’s Bookshop on Facebook or Instagram or go to org.usbornebooksathome.co.uk/TheArtistsBookshop/

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