Wrestling fans in England are already very familiar with Bea Priestley. She and Will Ospreay are currently the proverbial "power couple" in the British wrestling scene right now. But for fans here in the United States and around the world who may be unfamiliar with Bea, her story is actually quite fascinating and inspirational. We got the chance to conduct a Q&A session with Bea to talk about not just her wrestling career, but more importantly, the fact that she survived a brain tumor. And not only did she survive and recover from it, but she was able to continue to pursue her dreams of being a professional wrestling star. This is our conversation with Bea Priestley:
1. Where are you originally from?
I was born in York, England but emigrated to New Zealand when I was 10 years old. I lived there for 9 years and moved to London last year.
2. How long were you a fan of wrestling, and where did you train to become a professional wrestler?
I started watching wrestling when I was 14, and started my training at a promotion called New Zealand Wide Pro Wrestling. From there I trained at Impact Pro Wrestling under Travis Banks. Since living in London I train down at PROGRESS primarily.
3. Who are some of your inspirations?
I've always loved Chris Jericho. His work to me is amazing. He's also the man that got me into wrestling during his feud with Edge in 2010. However in the U.K. Scene, Jimmy Havoc. He's just got the ability to get everyone to hate him no matter where he wrestles. I hope one day to share that same skill.
4. How exactly did you find out about your brain tumor? Were you experiencing any certain symptoms?
I'm not comfortable talking about the symptoms. However it was discovered when I was 14 years old and I had it removed when I was 18.
5. What was the initial prognosis? What did your doctors tell you?
It was a benign tumor, so it had no blood flow and wasn't cancerous. But the pressure it was putting on my brain is what was causing me to have reactions to it.
6. How exactly did they go about treating the brain tumor?
A lot of MRI's and medication. That worked for 3 years, but just as I turned 18 it became uncontrollable and was life threatening, so they had to remove it.
7. What was your road to recovery like? How did you feel, both physically and mentally?
I actually got heavily depressed. It's quite normal after surgery apparently. But then I set the goal of moving back to England, so I got myself back in the gym and steadily eased myself back into wrestling when I was cleared. It was very tough initially. I wasn't able to walk properly and was banned from running until at least a month after my operation. Plus, my wound took a while to heal, so it was uncomfortable to sleep, etc.
8. How long did it take you to get cleared to return to the ring, and how did you prepare yourself to do so?
I got cleared in May 2015. I actually had a very fast recovery according to the hospital. But I felt fine since the beginning of the year. To me it wasn't a big deal, the surgery altogether. If I didn't have the surgery I probably would've died, so I didn't have anything to lose.
9. Now that you've recovered and are back to doing what you love, what are your long-term goals in wrestling?
I hope to make a name for myself in the U.K. However, if WWE is ever interested or Japan, then I'd take those opportunities too. I'm just taking wrestling as it comes really and making the most out of it. Most people's goal is WWE, and that's mine too, but I'm just taking it one step at a time and seeing what comes my way.
10. Where can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook: /beapriestleypw Twitter: @beapriestley Instagram: @beapriestleypw
11. Any final thoughts that you would like to share with our readers?
I'm quite fortunate in the fact that I was cleared to wrestle again. But I also had a lot of people tell me that I'd never be able to or that I wouldn't leave New Zealand. Well, look where I am now. I've been fortunate enough to wrestle for some of the top promotions in the U.K. And I proved all those people wrong. If you really want to do something then the only person who is stopping you is yourself.