Lin-Pei's Story

Lin-Pei's Story

A New Mom With a Malignant Brain Tumour Supports Spring Sprint

February 8, 2011 is a day that I do not remember, but it has become a day that will forever live in my memory. On that day, I delivered my first child, Genevieve, and immediately after that, I had a craniotomy. When I regained consciousness, it was a surreal feeling to learn about the emergency caesarean section and the brain surgery that I had just been through.

I was shocked. Our baby had arrived one month early. I was then more shocked to learn that after many years of headaches and several months of nausea and vomiting (which I thought were “normal” for pregnancy) were related to a brain tumour.

The largest dimension of the tumour was about 8cm, or the size of an orange. I was so stunned to find out that my “usual” headaches throughout my life were not so typical after all.

My husband, Ivan, has been part of my life since high school. He gives me strength and encouragement through the highs and lows in my life. We were so thrilled, after 14 years of marriage, to finally have a baby at the age of 40. With this news about the brain tumour, we found ourselves in a strange place; feeling a mixture of sad and happy emotions.

Shortly after I was discharged from London’s University Hospital, we learned about the pathology of my brain tumour. When the radiation oncologist told us that I had a Glioblastoma tumour of grade 4 (GBM), we were totally devasted. A GBM grade 4 is currently an incurable, malignant, life-threatening disease and the most aggressive type of primary brain tumour. We broke down and cried and cried. Our baby was only two weeks old. Our hands were already full with accepting all of the changes going on in our family life.

By the end of that week, I was preparing a mask for radiation at Victoria Hospital. My tumour was rapidly growing and but only two-thirds was removed through the craniotomy surgery. By mid-March, I was at the hospital for radiation on a daily basis for six weeks and taking daily chemotherapy.

While at the hospital, I saw a poster for the monthly London Brain Tumour Support Group meeting. Ivan and I attended our first Support Group meeting on April 5, 2011. We learned about the London Spring Sprint being held the following weekend on April 16. Ivan and I thought about joining the event but we decided we had too much going on with radiation, chemotherapy and raising our newborn baby girl.

However, on Wednesday, April 13 (just two and a half days before the Spring Sprint!), we set an aggressive goal of raising $2,500. Ivan signed up as a “team” of one person that afternoon. In just a few hours, Ivan received an email saying that he had reached his fundraising goal for Spring Sprint! (now Brain Tumour Walk)  

This was absolutely thrilling and motivated us to be even more excited about Spring Sprint. Suddenly, we weren’t feeling so silly about our ambitious goal. We watched our fundraising webpage fill up with many kind words of encouragement and prayers for our family.

Donations came in from our immediate and extended families. Our message was sent out to some family, friends and work colleagues who then sent our plea for donations to their own families and friends. We were overwhelmed to see so many people coming together to support us.

The families of several friends and work colleagues were reaching out to us. It was incredible how quickly and generously people responded. We were amazed to find support coming from the many people we encountered through different stages in our lives: from my own current staff and co-workers, colleagues from past jobs, Ivan’s work clients, hospital staff, neighbours, and even those people we knew but didn’t actually expect to get a response from. Our sponsors were from across Canada and all over the world including Europe, Asia and the United States.

On the eventful Spring Sprint day, Ivan and I proudly took Genevieve on her first stroll through Springbank Gardens. I wasn’t sure if I would have the energy to do the whole course. We just strolled and before we knew it, we were at the mid-point and able to turn back. While under the Guy Lombardo Bridge, I took my chemo medication and continued to the end with Ivan and Genevieve. It was exhilarating to complete the journey.

Thanks to the generous support of so many people, our goal to raise $2,500 was well exceeded. We raised a total of $22,710 through 216 sponsors.

Early in my cancer journey, participating in the 2011 London Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk) showed my family and me how much love and support we had for my recovery.

While Ivan and I were originally very concerned that our goal of $2,500 was too ambitious for two and a half days of fundraising, we realized how abundantly blessed we were with generous and caring family, friends, work colleagues and strangers too. Having committed and dedicated connections helped us in our journey.

Supporting the Brain Tumour Walk events anywhere you are in Canada is an incredible contribution, which gives my family, and all those affected by a brain tumour, hope.

Written by Lin-Pei. Shared in March 2012.

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