Friday, April 20, 2007

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week, there's been plenty in the news. Plenty of horror with the Virginia Tech massacre and plenty of mourning. Today is actually a Day of Mourning. But I wasn't about to let that detract from NITNF. Instead, I'd like to offer one person's story of hope and triumph in the midst of a life-threatening illness. I don't know her personally but this story is truly inspiring. This is Kim's story.

Kim's Story
Originally written Saturday, August 12, 2006

Kim was diagnosed with a GBM in 2004. In her story, which she has titled, "An Unwelcome Stranger," she shares how she has coped with radiation and chemotherapy. She expresses her hope that her story can be a "light at the end of the tunnel" for others.

March 3, 2004 started out like any other day, but ended in a way that changed my life forever....

I was at work, like every Monday through Friday, and was sitting at my desk working on my computer. That was my last memory until waking up in the Emergency Room of a local hospital. I had no idea what was going on. I was terrified! A nurse or doctor told me that I had had a seizure at work and that I was at the Emergency Room. I thought I was hearing things. There must be a mistake...I've never had a seizure before and I had been feeling fine. My brain would not believe what my ears were hearing. I asked what time it was and when I was told it was 4:15 pm, I couldn't believe that either. Last time I remembered looking at the clock it was 1:00 pm and I had just got back to my desk from lunch. How could over three hours have passed! I couldn't accept what was being told to me. My head was spinning a mile and minute and I just couldn't comprehend what was being told to me. I have never been so scared in my whole life.

I asked if my boyfriend had been notified and they said that he was on his way. I was so relieved when he got there. I kept telling him that I wanted to go home and that they have the wrong person; that they somehow made a mistake. He told me so gently that they didn't make a mistake and that I did have a seizure. He said that my boss and some co-workers were sitting in the lobby of the Emergency Room and he had spoken with them. They came back to see me and from the looks on their faces, I knew that everything that was told to me was true...I really did have a seizure.

During the next few weeks, I underwent many tests to see if the doctors could figure out what caused my seizure. I was so hoping that it was just some sort of fluke that I had a seizure. I wasn't sick or having headaches or anything like that before the seizure, so I thought for sure that the doctors would not be able to find anything that caused it. Unfortunately they did find out what caused my seizure; a brain tumor. I was devastated. I had brain surgery almost immediately. Waiting for the results of the surgery was so agonizing.

About four days after surgery my surgeon called for me to come in. I knew right then that it was bad news. And I was right. He said I had a tumor; it was a GBM. He was holding my hand the whole time he was talking to me. I had him on one side of me and my boyfriend on the other side of me. The doctor said that I had to put my life on hold and spend every minute trying to get better.

I immediately started radiation; 33 treatments which took 6 1/2 weeks. Along with the radiation I took chemo pills too. I was extremely sick! I remember crying a lot saying that I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired. My boyfriend would never let me have negative thoughts and always told me not to give up hope and most importantly - told me that I was going to survive this. At that point in time I didn't believe him. I wasn't eating, or drinking, or doing much of anything but sleeping. My doctor said that was OK, that that is what my body needed. I slept 20 hours a day, I lost 30 lbs. and looked and felt like a rag.

I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but my boyfriend kept telling me that it was right there, that he could see it. He never once showed me how afraid he was. I continued with chemo even after radiation was done and went from taking pills every day to taking them less frequently. Slow, but steady, I started feeling better. I was able to stay awake more and able to eat; actually was getting my appetite back! I had many MRI's, still do, and every one of them since surgery has come back clear! I am so very fortunate. And I am so very fortunate that I had a person like my boyfriend in my corner. He is my number one supporter! He made me a believer! He also made me his wife!

It is now 28 months since my surgery and I am doing great! I am so very fortunate that I am doing so well and have no residual affects from all of this.

I've realized many things over the past couple of years. One of them, that life can change at the drop of a dime; that cancer doesn't only happen to "other" people; that this unwelcomed stranger can show up at any one's door at anytime. I've also realized how many people love me and care about me. It still amazes me. My co-workers brought dinners almost every night during my radiation. And everyone always sent cards, good wishes and prayers. My family and I have also grown closer together. I am finally back to feeling "normal" again. I still get tired some days, but other then that I feel good. I have been off of chemo since November, 2005 and life couldn't be sweeter.

So when you are in need of that light at the end of the tunnel, the same one that for awhile I couldn't see, just think about me and I can be that light for you.

I hope that everyone who reads this goes away with a smile on their face and hope in their heart.

Source: American Brain Tumor Association - Survivor Stories

No comments: