Sharon's Story

Sharon's Story

I am a married mother of 4, ages 12, 10, 8, and 3. Early in the spring of 2011, I began to have headaches. Initially, they started mild, and most often times, ibuprofen would help to alleviate their symptoms. As the weeks progressed, they began to get more debilitating; to the point I was not able to hold my head up during an “episode”.

I began seeing my family physician for medical help, and he began prescribing “migraine” medications, and advised me that if they continued to get worse, to go the emergency department for injections of Demerol, or Toradol to relieve the pain. He concluded that they were simply “tension headaches” because the muscles in my neck seemed to be quite tight. I was a student – and he thought that juggling school and home life was causing stress.

I began waking up during the night with torturing headaches, and within a few months, I began seeing the chiropractor and massage therapist for assistance. The massage therapist noted how tight my neck muscles were, and requested that I have frequent visits a few times a week. The chiropractor was seeing me regularly as well, and was doing neck manipulation. After a series of sessions, my symptoms were getting worse, followed with blurry vision and I was advised to keep being persistent with my family doctor, because clearly SOMETHING was not normal.

I decided on my own, to see the eye doctor – perhaps my prescription changed? I saw the Optometrist Wed Sept 28, 2011. The optometrist dilated my pupils, and reacted very quickly telling me he had found a hemorrhage behind my left eye, and requested I see a colleague of his immediately. He sent me to an Ophthalmologist within 30 minutes, and I began a series of tests (visual field tests, and examinations). The specialist explained that he wanted to send me for an MRI and to a Neurologist to rule out the options, he had a few thoughts on what it could be, but wanted to be certain before making a diagnosis.

On Oct 3, 2011, I was seen by a neurologist who suggested that I needed a stint put in – his thoughts were a blocked vein in my brain. He was going to send me for a spinal tap Thursday Oct 6, 2011 and begin procedures after my MRI booked for Wednesday Oct 5, 2011. On Oct 5, I went to my MRI. When I was leaving, I asked the technician when I would know the results, and she responded not for about 2 weeks, but that the doctor would contact me. I remember looking at the screen in front of her, and saying to my husband, I don’t think it looked normal….something is wrong, I just feel it. He assured me I was being paranoid, and we started on our way back home (an hour away).

Before we made it home, my cell phone began to ring. It was the Neurologist, who asked me to put the phone on speaker phone so he could talk to both my husband and me. He started telling me that they had found a brain tumor, and needed me to return to the hospital immediately to start on medications. When I arrived, I was further told that I had significant brain swelling, which had caused one of the ventricles in my brain to completely close, and the other was not far from closing itself. My brain stem had shifted 9 mm already, and they needed to keep me under close watch right away. They were not going to do the spinal tap – and were quite relieved they hadn’t decided to it before the MRI because I would have been in terrible shape.

The night before my surgery, my children came up to see me, and when it was time for them to go, it was the hardest thing I had to do. I kept my chin up, and said “I will see you soon!” all the while thinking that I might not.

My surgery was Oct 7, 2011 (Thanksgiving Weekend) – only 2 days after finding out I had a brain tumor. I was told it was sitting in a location that controls my right side functions(handwriting), my speech, eyesight, ability to walk, and memory. My surgery was supposed to be 6 hours, and they were able to get it out in 3 ½ hours. All I could think about was – am I going to live – will I wake up – what about my children – what is my quality of life going to be when I wake up?

The tumor was Meningioma Stage 2 brain tumour – it was non-malignant after the results from pathology came back. However, I am closely monitored – having MRI scans done every 3 months. This is a slow growing tumour that has potential to grow back, but they tell me I will be 90 or older when that happens. My recent images still show “enhancements” but at this stage they can’t be certain if it is tumor tissue or if it is simply scar tissue.

The surgeon told me I was “one in a million” because I woke with no significant complications. My vision improved, my speech, my memory, ability to walk – everything!! I was truly a miracle!!

I was sent home on Thanksgiving Monday – THE BEST THANKSGIVING EVER – ! I did experience some mild complications, due to the significant swelling and fluid on my brain but not from the surgery itself. I was on a steroid for months, and that alone has severe side effects. I have been off the medications for 10 months now, and am feeling great! I ran my first 5K run – with my family – Team Strength and Perseverance – just a few months ago. I was able to complete my schooling and graduated with academic honors – 4.0GPA!!! My kids still have their mother – and I get to watch them grow up with the love of my life ♥

Not a moment goes by when I don’t think about how lucky I actually was. To think that in a split second, had my decisions been any different than they were, where would I be?

I am so thankful to be here, and to have such wonderful supporters. My family, friends and the knowledgeable staff who were quick thinking are the reasons why I’m here. Every Thanksgiving holds and extra special meaning for me and my family!

Thank you for reading my story!

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