Injured South Yorkshire dancer hopes fundraiser will help get her back on her feet

A 23-year-old woman from South Yorkshire says she feels helpless after an injury 'shattered' her dreams of continuing as a professional dancer.

By Rahmah Ghazali
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 1:08 pm

Jessica Meegan was forced to give up her job after suffering an injury while teaching that left her unable to walk or move – a month before she was scheduled to return to work in theatre after the pandemic.

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Jessica, who began dancing at the age of two and had performed in a hit West End musical, was teaching an online workshop in June when she noticed her body 'stiffening up' towards the end of the class.

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Jessica, 23 suffers from a large prolapsed disc in her spine compressing the descending L5 nerve roots down into her right leg and foot.

She said: “I carried on the whole class because of professionalism. I was near the end, about 20 minutes to go but things kept getting harder to do.

“I carried on as the call finished and my mum said my face just dropped...I told my mum my back is spasming and it's been nothing like it.

“She told me to just sit down for a moment and I kind of just sat and gave it time and hopefully it'd go away but it just carried on.

“I just sat in the chair for two hours, but my body just stiffened up. I was in tears for two hours and I told my mum I wanted to go to A&E.”

Jessica trained at CAPA College in performing arts, then got accepted into Bird College conservator of Dance and Musical Theatre in London; graduating with a 1st Class BA Hons Degree and she is now a professional Dancer, Singer and Actor.

Jessica said following an MRI report, she was handed the news that she suffered from a large prolapsed disc in her spine compressing the descending L5 nerve roots down into her right leg and foot.

She was then informed that as she was young and active, the disc had a higher chance of healing itself within eight weeks.

‘Weeks turned into months’

Soon after graduating, Jessica began working within the industry and started her first role in a hit West End musical on a UK tour, one of which was her dream job.

Unfortunately, it didn't improve enough and the weeks kept getting extended into months.

Jessica, who also works as a professional singer and actor based in London, said she has now decided to consider the surgical route so that she will hopefully be able to return to doing what she loves most.

However, she stated that the NHS waiting list is between 12 and 18 months long and that after surgery, therapy and time to return to dance will be required.

As a result, she stated that she has been forced to pursue private surgery since she no longer wishes to walk in pain and wishes to continue and return to her career and dance as soon as possible.

However, the surgery is costly at £8,000, which does not include the additional expenditures associated with post-operative rehabilitation, transport to London for the procedure, and wheelchair rental among other things.

She said: “They kept saying I’d get better in six to eight weeks but then it got up to the point of another six weeks and weeks turned into months.

“The second scan that came through didn’t show any improvements – it didn’t get better, it didn’t get worse, it was the exact same problem and that’s why I had to consider the surgical route.”

She added: “It may sound like the cringiest thing to say but there's no other way to describe it that my dreams were shattered.”

Jessica and her family have launched a fundraising campaign to help fund the surgery so she can focus on recovering for her dreams and professional career to continue again.

To help, visit her Go Fund Me page.