Kimm's Story: Not letting it get the best of me

Kimm's Story: Not letting it get the best of me

For me, the waiting is the hardest part. Not the surgery, not the radiation or steroids (though those were no picnic), but the waiting. Since my first seizure on January 24, 2010, it’s been a roller-coaster of discovery, treatment, recovery, and yes, waiting.

It all began that January, though I remember having (what I thought were) migraines in the summer leading up to that time. I chalked my headaches and nausea up to being sensitive to the heat and humidity of the season. But when what felt like electric shocks coursed up and down the left side of my face that winter night, I knew something wasn’t right. I even thought I was having a stroke.

A call to Telehealth and a recommendation to immediately go to a hospital brought me to our local emergency room, where I was given a slew of neurological testing – none of which I was doing particularly well at that night. Next came the X-rays and CT scan, then the private room. You know when you get admitted to the hospital that something isn’t going as planned.

Shortly after I had an MRI and luckily my husband and brother were there with me when we got the results. A 5cm tumour was taking up about half the right-side of my brain. My doctor was great and outlined all my options – and into survival mode I went. I decided I couldn’t give up, that I wouldn’t back down to this thing and I would come out of everything ok for my two kids and husband.

Two weeks after my first MRI I had an awake craniotomy. I wasn’t scared at all; I just knew I wanted this thing out of my body. The craniotomy was actually a biopsy so the doctors could figure out what type of tumour it was. It was amazing being awake for the whole thing, talking to the surgeon as he was operating. I felt like a superhero coming out of that surgery and as I headed into the ICU to recover. The official diagnosis was made after the biopsy. I had a grade III anaplastic astrocytoma – brain cancer.

Radiation followed and for the next six weeks, five times a week, I went for treatment. It was exhausting, and the steroids I had to take were horrible. Necessary, but still horrible. All my energy was tapped but our family and friends were there to help in so many ways. Even my dad came down from Montreal to lend a hand.

I recovered, had my regular follow-up MRIs and even tried to go back to work in October 2011. Unfortunately I couldn’t work like I once did, so now I’m home and have the chance to help out with my kids’ soccer teams and keep up with my own fitness. Exercise has really helped me cope with this whole experience. My faith, meditation and yoga have been beyond beneficial. And when I heard around Christmastime in 2011 that I was in remission, I was thrilled. I felt like I’d beaten this thing!

I have kept up with routine scans since 2011 and just recently had another. As I now wait for the next steps on my journey with a brain tumour, I’m trying not to think about all the possibilities but admit that it isn’t easy. So I share my story, in hopes of helping someone else going through this same thing. To know that you are not alone and that there is support. And that you have the courage and strength to make it through this.

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