Wendy's Story of Strength

Wendy's Story of Strength

“There are so many people who are touched by brain tumours. I hope that we are able to better educate the general public,” single mother Wendy Thomas says.

A Saskatoon high school counselor for international students and devoted to her two young boys, she too has been affected by a brain tumour.

Wendy is sharing her story to help build connections as a part of Brain Tumour Awareness Month.

She is a proud mother, enjoys working with kids in her school, and loves playing sports and staying active. However, her life took a drastic turn in the summer of 2009 when she developed what seemed like a blind spot in her left eye.

After visiting her optometrist, Wendy learned that her optic nerve was very swollen. Her doctor immediately sent her to the local hospital where an MRI was ordered – Wendy had a tumour around her optic nerve. It was, and is still, so close to her optic nerve that it could damage her eyesight permanently or cause blindness.

“Then the doctor said ‘brain tumour,’ and as soon as he said that I thought ‘This is serious.’ I’m a single mom so it was really scary,” Wendy recalls. “I went into this panic mode.”

Wendy stayed at the hospital for eight days after the scan results came back, taking every test possible to determine if the tumour was cancerous. Wendy’s tumour was eventually diagnosed as a non-malignant meningioma.

Wendy says she still needs regular MRIs to keep track of the stability of her tumour, and ever since the diagnosies, has been connecting her story with others’ because of a push from her children. “One of my sons motivated me to share my story,” Wendy said. “He encouraged me to go to an event called Brain Blast to find out more about brain tumours.”

At the event, there was a table with representatives from Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Adult Brain Tumour Support Group who shared with her the Adult Brain Tumour Handbook and information about the support group meetings in her area.

“I ended up mentioning that I had a meningioma and a woman was sitting there saying she had one too. I thought ‘Wow, there are other people in the world that have gone through the same thing as me.’ I don’t have to keep it all to myself. It gave me a sense of freedom.”

Through the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada representatives and reading the handbook, Wendy had the information she needed to ask more specific questions during her health care appointments. “I feel like I am more educated just from that one little talk at a booth.”

She’s found strength, especially during the tough times, by attending her local support group. “Sometimes I think ‘Is it growing? Is it cancerous and they haven’t been able to tell yet?’ [The support group helps] pull me out of those times when I feel really depressed and down.”

Wendy is now sharing a message of hope to help eliminate the stigma of having a brain tumour. She aims to educate people about the many different types. “Not all brain tumours are the same. There are varying degrees of aggressiveness and where they are found in the brain has an impact,” Wendy explains.

Wendy and her boys at Saskatoon Spring Sprint
Although there may be some setbacks and struggles along the way, trying to live as normal a life as possible is important to Wendy. Her eldest son encouraged her to participate in the 2013 Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk) in Saskatoon. At the event, Wendy ran with pride in her blue shirt, indicating she is a survivor of a brain tumour. “I wanted to show people that others can live a normal life and be hopeful even when facing life with a brain tumour,” Wendy says.

By reaching out and finding connections to others affected by a brain tumour, Wendy says this can be the first step on a road of healing and positivity. With open discussion between people who have been impacted by the disease, those navigating the journey can be strengthened and empowered to keep fighting.

“A part of it is being more vocal and talking to people who may have a connection somewhere. You can find connections that can help you just through talking about it.”

Thank you Wendy for sharing your story of strength.

Donate now to support patients and families in honour of Brain Tumour Awareness MonthYou can donate to support the brain tumour community today. Your one-time, tribute or recurring gift brings hope to the 837 Canadians that will be diagnosed with a brain tumour each month. Thank you.

<back to Brain Tumour Awareness Month

Story posted: October 2013. Since then, Brain Tumour Awareness Month has moved to May.

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