Rais' Story

Wed 15 July

A brain tumour diagnosis changed Rais Hasan's life forever, but a newfound hobby not only helped him through recovery, but led him down a completely new path and onto the global stage.

When Rais Hasan was diagnosed with an astrocytoma – a form of brain tumour - twelve years ago, he was given the choice for an eight hour surgery, with a low survival rate, in order to treat it. For Rais though, there was no choice, he knew he just had to get it done. When he awoke, following the successful surgery, he found his life forever changed.
Before his diagnosis, Rais had been working as a Senior Youth Manager and a National Advisor to the Prince's Trust, covering the whole of the Yorkshire region. He'd always been a people-person and loved talking to people, no matter who they were, and helping them open up. But after his surgery, all that ended overnight; he was struggling to remember names or even read or write. His life was completely changed and Rais was forced to question how he was ever going to carry on. But Rais has always been a strong minded-individual and told himself: “I'm going to survive”.
Rais was lucky to already have a very supportive family around him, with a good network of friends, but his diagnosis left him feeling isolated and constantly questioning “why me?”. After his surgery, his consultant directed him towards a local charity called Andrea's Gift, still in its first few years of operation and which would later become Yorkshire's Brain Tumour Charity, and through the charity, he began to meet people who had been through the same thing. He found others who'd been in his position and understood what it was like, something that was incredibly helpful in his recovery.
Rais' recovery was a slow process at first – he struggled to read or write and he felt it was like he'd gone back to primary school. About a year after his surgery though, his family bought him a small camera for his birthday, and the house-bound Rais began taking photos of anything and everything around him. He soon turned his new hobby into a game, taking a close-up photo and getting his family to guess what object it was around the house. He slowly worked his way up to taking walks around the local park and photographing what he saw.
Rais found he loved taking photos so much that he decided to set himself a new challenge and enrolled on a two year photography course at Shipley College. He knew the course would be a massive struggle, not only because he'd have to keep working on his reading and writing, but all the while learning a new skill and studying all hours. But Rais was determined to see it through and worked as hard as he could.
As he continued practising and taking photos, he further developed his new skills with YBTC, taking photos of other patients and their families and in effect creating a photographic history of the charity's early days. Rais soon became the YBTC's go-to photographer and could be found snapping away at all the major events, from Christmas Fairs to Fundraising Balls.
As Rais continued to improve, he found his experience from his old job coming in handy. He'd always been good at speaking to people and found his ability to help them open up very useful when going in to new situations or photographing large events. Rais found he could just jump straight in, talk to anyone and be comfortable enough in any scenario to get good shots. He realised that you have to be confident in your own ability and have no fear.
This confidence and skill has seen Rais become an internationally renowned photographer, with his work exhibited all over the world from Toronto and New York to China and Mumbai, where his work featured at a prestigious gallery for a Bollywood opening night. In 2016, he made history when he became President of the Bradford Photographic Society, the first Asian president of any photographic society in the UK. He's achieved numerous photographic titles including the Associate Disabled Photographers Society and the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.


For Rais, his photography is a process of continuous learning, which keeps his mind active, and as he helps other people develop their own skills through tutoring, he also keeps learning new things too.
Rais says he's very chuffed with where his photography has taken him; what started as a way to keep himself occupied when he was reeling from his diagnosis and losing his old life, wondering how he was ever going to survive, to a skill that's seen him rank amongst the top entries in global competitions. He's always told himself that you just have to go with life as it changes and always try your best. You have to find a way to be happy with who and what you are.
With his photography, Rais found a way to help him through his recovery. It helped him forget about his brain tumour and losing his old life. It gave him something to focus on and showed him the importance of trying to keep a positive outlook and just give things a try: “If you don't have a go, you'll never know.

CLICK HERE to see a gallery of Rais' wonderful pictures.

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