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After surviving five brain operations, chef prospers

CLIENTELE: Chef Shana Lewis, left, with 'Gogglebox' star Sandra Martin

CHRISTIAN businesswoman and church elder Shana Lewis is living proof that illness is no barrier to achieving one’s dreams.

Despite being diagnosed with a brain condition that can leave her in severe pain and cause seizures, Lewis, 47, runs her business, Christlike Creations, creating cakes, cards and candles.

Lewis’ clients have included popular black celebrities like comedienne Angie Le Mar and Gogglebox star Sandy Martin and such is the demand for her products, she is looking to expand.

The creative, who hails from east London, suffers from a type 1 Chiari malformation (CM). A condition she was born with, it was diagnosed 11 years ago and causes the base of her brain to extend into her spinal canal. In 2012 she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. The illness caused her to have bad headaches and fainting fits, while her mobility was limited and spent a lot of time in hospital.

Lewis' children were aged four and 10 when she first became ill, and she relied on help from friends, family and the church to look after them. However, in spite of her illness, the mum got on with life.

“I just plodded on because I have this attitude, 'Suck it up, get on with it',” she said.

During the many times she was in hospital, Lewis shared her faith with the patients she met. A qualified chef, she started her cake business in 2011.

A year later her illness worsened.

She recalled:

“I could no longer just 'suck it up' and get on with it. My body was actually weakening. I knew I had to go back to the doctor. I was then diagnosed with the hydrocephalus.”

Since her second diagnosis, Lewis has undergone five brain operations.

SUSTAINED

The brave overcomer, who is an elder and trustee at her church Hampden Chapel, in Hackney, east London, says her faith helps keep her sane. She grew-up in church, got saved at 12, fell away as a teenager and re-committed her life to God at 30.

“It has sustained me absolutely. One time when I was praying God told me I’m going to be sick but it won’t be unto death. Because God said that to me, that word took me through my sickness.”

Lewis copes with her illness by pacing herself and making her cakes. She said:

“I forget about the pain and everything that’s going on around me when I’m focusing on a cake. There was a point I couldn’t use my hands. I couldn’t even feed myself so now that I can make cakes and sculpt figures, for me that’s amazing.”

She has big plans for her business and wants more celebrity clients – but she also has a message of hope for those that are sick.

“You have to be intentional and choose to make your life work despite the pain. The days I can’t get out of my bed, I don’t. Those days that I can, I absolutely live life to the full.”

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