OVERCOMING cancer has led a Henley resident on a spiritual journey, even possibly bumping into a ghost along the way.
Mariehanna Dickson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last November and was told she may not survive.
The 31-year-old began intensive chemotherapy for the illness, which had also spread to her lymph nodes. She was told to halt her job as a paranormal investigator and lecturer immediately.
But Mariehanna – who moved to the UK six years ago from South Africa – turned to her work to help her battle cancer and set about organising a paranormal convention for two charities close to her heart.
And the work must have helped, as Mariehanna has now been given the all clear.
She said: “I have been in the paranormal field for around seven years now investigating and lecturing.
“When I was diagnosed the doctors did not think I would make it and I had to start a heavy chemotherapy regime.
“But due to my love of the paranormal and all things weird, I decided to put on the convention to raise funds for two fantastic charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and Oxfam.
“Working on the convention not only took my mind off the treatment but has also given me something to look forward to, especially now I have been told I am officially cancer free.
“I have survived what most people do not and you cannot believe the relief knowing I have been blessed with a second chance.”
While researching for the paranormal convention – which is set to be held on Friday October 7 to Sunday October 9 – she accidentally snapped a picture of a ghost while walking around Warwick Castle.
Marieanna took a picture of an information board in the Kenilworth bedroom – which is rumoured to be the most haunted room in the castle. The board told of a South African spiritualist who raised a girl from the dead.
But when Mariehanna looked back at the snap she saw a spooky reflection in the image.
Although she does not know who it is, the castle is supposedly haunted by an old lady who drifts along the corridors from room to room.
And now she is hoping to see the spirit again during a ghostly investigation at the castle, which kick-starts the weekend of all things paranormal.
The rest of the event will see Wroxhall Abbey taken over by zombies and ghosts for the Sage Paracon convention, named after the Sage Paranormal company which Mariehanna founded.
It will be highlighted with museums, interactive workshops, game shows, live bands, refreshments and even a zombie prom party.
There will also be talks from international speakers who are the stars of paranormal investigation TV shows.
Mariehanna hopes the convention will celebrate all things out of the ordinary, after a life which has seen her visited by ghosts and make strange discoveries on her paranormal investigations.
She also believes she has psychic abilities passed down from her mother, but always looks for a logical explanation in what she finds.
Mariehanna told the Observer: “The strangest paranormal investigation I ever had was at the Explosion Museum in Gosport. We had so many weird things happen such as hearing a spirit calling us out by name and imitating our voices.
“We recorded what sounds like a full conversation in the main hall, but there was no one in the building at the time.”
Tickets to the Sage Paracon Convention are now limited and cost from £35 for a day pass.
Visit sageparacon.co.uk to book or find out more.