A THEATRE director who battled back from the brink of death is step into the limelight again tonight.
Drama professor Marian Mantovani will direct a double bill at a prestigious West Yorkshire venue - after fighting an illness which nearly killed her.
She said: “I have gone through a lot in life and have realised you have to live life to the full and take every day as it comes.”
Marian, 30, had followed her childhood dream to work in America when she was struck down by debilitating illness lupus ten years ago.
She said: “I began suffering joint aches and pains. I thought it was arthritis at first but it gradually got worse.”
Her boss urged her to go to hospital and her life changed one December day in 2002 when she admitted herself to a hospital in Los Angeles for urgent treatment.
“I somehow got dressed, hauled myself to a bus stop and got to the hospital. I walked through the doors and just collapsed.”
Marian, who now lives in Hooton Pagnell, had been planning to fly back to the UK for treatment - but was told she would probably have died from kidney failure on the flight home.
After 10 days in hospital in the US, she returned home and began a new course of treatment - but a year later suffered a second brush with death when blood clots were found on her lungs and she underwent chemotherapy.
Eventually, she was able to resume her career Stateside, working at a summer school in New York before taking a degree in theatre directing at The University of Alabama, later becoming a teacher professor and directing a series of plays.
But she suffered another blow when her Italian-born dad Elvio was diagnosed with cancer and she was forced to return to England once more.
Shortly after returning, she was introduced to writer Michael Yates and producing partner Helen Shay - and the pair instantly offered her the chance to direct Double Dealers, a double bill of plays about love, sex and image which will be staged at Leeds’ Carriageworks today.
She added: “It’s tough living with lupus - I have days of pain and fatigue - but it’s under control now. I consider myself one of the lucky ones.”