Nicole’s Story: “Teddy the Tumour”

Nicole’s Story: “Teddy the Tumour”
Nicole has always been focused on how she can help others. As a little girl she made friends with the kids who seemed not to have many peers, and brought home stray animals all the time. This continued through her teenage years and into adulthood.
Flash forward to the summer of 2013, Nicole was a hardworking young woman, a goalie in both hockey and ringette, and mom to a few fur-babies, when she started to feel unwell. She started a blog as a way to chart her journey, and to communicate with friends and family so that they could get updates on how she was doing without feeling intrusive.
Kery Long MRI August 2013Originally Nicole was diagnosed with silent migraines, but her doctor also scheduled a precautionary MRI to rule out anything else, such as an aneurysm. The results of the MRI showed a brain tumour the size of a small fist. Nicole gave her tumour a name, ‘Teddy the Tumour’.  
Following Nicole’s brain tumour diagnosis, came further findings that her migraines were actually small focal seizures. 
Surgery to remove Teddy was scheduled for two weeks after the diagnosis. To prepare for surgery, Nicole opted to shave her very long hair, donating it to Angel Hair for Kids, and raise money for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. The target was to raise $1,500 – a target smashed when Nicole raised $4,700! 
After her 10-hour surgery, in which Nicole had a small stroke, the pathology revealed Teddy to be an anaplastic astrocytoma (Grade III), a form of brain cancer that needs aggressive treatment: Thirty-three radiation treatments and 12 rounds of chemo followed Nicole’s operation.  
Nicole continued to update her blog, detailing her progress and celebrating improvements and victories. Awesomely positive and inspiring, Nicole said in a post: “Even if the obstacle you’re facing looks as daunting as Mt. Everest, believe in yourself. You CAN do it! The top of the mountain may always seem just out of your reach, but keep trying because you CAN get to the summit!”
Nicole took her own advice, taking part in Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk) after going through treatment, with support from her team “With Flying Colours”. It took her one hour and eight minutes to complete the walk route, but Nicole did it!  “Nicole never gives up,” explains her mom, ”she believes that she can do anything she puts her mind to and it never occurs to her that she can’t do things. Nicole cares deeply about others and is always seeking ways to share her experiences, both good and bad, to help someone else along the way.”
What Nicole didn’t share on her blog was her mental health experiences while on the brain tumour journey. “I've been through depression as a result of the cancer and stroke. Serious depression. My doctors have told me it's not unexpected. Please, I beg of you, dear readers, if you are depressed for any reason, do not be ashamed and seek help urgently.”  
Reflecting on the past few years, Nicole’s dad says that, “Over the past couple of years, the disease has tried to suppress some of Nicole’s personality but with her usual dogged determination she has fought through it and her personality shines through stronger and stronger every day. She is an inspiration to all who know and love her.”
Nicole suggests that others on the brain tumour journey might look at starting their own blogs, not only as a way to document their feelings and experiences, but blogging can also have the great side effect of being cathartic! “I wholly believe I was given that tumour for a reason, and spreading brain tumour awareness and my story must be part of that reason!”
Kery Long MRI May 2015Nicole’s latest MRI in May 2015 was clean and stable – compared to one three months earlier – and the duration between her MRIs has been extended, a sure sign that she is improving.  As she says: “I still have a ways to go, but I’m working hard at it.”  
Thank you Nicole for sharing your story, and for your support.
We look forward to reading many more positive posts on your blog.
Donate today!Your donation to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada helps people like Nicole. People who want nothing more than to get back in the game. Stop brain tumours in their tracks. Donate today.
Photo credit: Dawn Denningberg

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Story posted: August 2015


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