Selina's Story: My Rapid Change in Life

Selina's Story: My Rapid Change in Life

My rapid change in life all began in 2010 when I found myself in the emergency room worrying that I had shown symptoms of a seizure. After a CT scan I was sent home with the results of no seizure activity and a business card for a Neurologist that would call me for an appointment. An MRI was to follow, and there was no sense of urgency. 

After a long wait of almost two years I finally got a specialist appointment with a Neurologist. It was there that I was diagnosed with chronic migraines, and a sleeping disorder. At this point in my life I had just finished college, started a new full time job in my career field as a Veterinary Assistant and was on the road to a successful and exciting life. I had done well for myself, but little did I know that was all about to change. 

My MRI was finally done by August 2012. I was almost home from my appointment when I got a call from the hospital urging me to come back right away. I made my way back and another MRI was done, where the nurse told me the doctor just needed a few more images. This didn`t feel right, my nerves kicked in and I was alone and afraid. 
 
I was told there was no sense of urgency from every doctor that I had seen in the last two years, yet this all started to seem really urgent. Once I got home I received a call from the Neurologist scheduling an appointment to see him within the next few days. The days to follow were awful; every passing minute I thought of every possible negative outcome. I am thankful though, that my family and my friends helped keep me sane and had such a positive attitude about it all. I had been suffering from chronic headaches daily, so bad so that they would make me sick. I missed work a few times, and some days I would just stay in bed. I never did anything about these days; I took meds and slept it off. Head pain and sickness became normal for me. I began to worry, Could I have overlooked something serious these past few years? 
 
I remember walking into the Neurologists appointment room so stressed. It was a regular Doctor’s office, but a picture caught my attention, he has a dog. A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, those are beautiful dogs. All I could think of was asking him, how old is he and what is his name? He brought up an image from my MRI and those dreadful words came out of his mouth, “You have a brain tumour. It looks like a few fragments of a few more around the same area too, I am so sorry to tell you this news.” I began to shake, everything went blank and yet all the words I could come up with were: “How old is your dog?” 
 
I was only 22 years old. I had to call my parents who lived seven hours away, who were so proud of their only daughter, and try to find the words to tell them the devastating news I was just given. Of course I couldn’t, and just screams and cries came out on the phone and they packed up as fast as they could and were on the road to Ottawa. 
 
Roughly four months later, my surgery had been scheduled for December 2012. The doctor suggested that all my head pain and trouble sleeping had been because of the tumours. Because of these symptoms I was weak and tired all the time, my short term memory was awful, and my overall demeanor was vanishing. A biopsy was needed, but in order to do so, the surgical procedure Craniotomy must be performed. I made it through surgery fine, but the next few months were terrible. I was always sick, my equilibrium was off, and I couldn’t eat or sleep. Most of these symptoms are expected from a patient who is recovering from brain surgery. But this went on for months and I was showing no signs of a proper recovery. It wasn’t long until I started having seizures, but was reassured it was no worry because when I was released from the hospital I was put on anti-seizure meds. 
 
By the end of March I pushed myself to go back to work. I could not stand being stuck in bed and feeling helpless any longer. I lasted about a week until I had a major seizure at work and was rushed to emergency. I had my normal life back for a week and it was taken away from me again. I had seizure after seizure. I was then spending every week back in emergency with the doctors trying to figure out what was still wrong with me. More medication, more rest, more hospital visits, I was losing my independence and life as a 22 year old girl fast. This surgery was supposed to fix everything, but I was only getting worse. By this point I lost my career, my social life, and my personality. I did not know who I was anymore and I had lost all faith. I waited it all out, I fought every single day and by August I realized that I had already lost so much time and opportunities that I may never get back again. So one day I pushed myself up and started over again. My family fed me with support and I found a new job. 
 
I looked at it as a clean slate and figured this is a great place for me to start over and begin living a new life. My family never let me give up. Of course, I had to start small, short days, sick days, hard days, but I was determined. It would be hard but I could do this, living with seizures. Unfortunately this dream vanished fast for me and I hit rock bottom once again. Seizures were happening left and right and I started living at the hospital again. I was put on more medication and I felt like a walking pharmacy. 
 
October came around, I was now 23 years old, and I got the results of another MRI showing the worst results you could imagine. “Another tumour. Fragments of the previous tumours were still visible as well.” I had lost every sense of positive thinking and I saw my life drifting away in front of me. My family was my rock. They carried me through everything and because of them I found the drive to start over again, pick myself up and go into a second surgery. 
 
February 2014 my second Craniotomy was performed. I was exhausted and praying for a better recovery this time around. Unfortunately, it did not start off well. During my stay in the hospital the doctors were worried that I had a blood clot, and I was diagnosed with having a heart attack. We were informed that if I had been an older individual it would have been fatal. This was the only time that I was happy to say: “I’m lucky that I had a heart attack at a young age.” My biopsy results from the first two surgeries were Non-Malignant Ganglioglioma Grade 1, and Grade 2. They were all located on my Right Temporal Lobe which is generally the most common. This area affects your language, behaviour, memory, hearing and emotions. I was stressed and the next few months were difficult again. I had to find the strength to push through this hurdle or I knew I would fade away to nothing. 
 
Spring came and in May I met an angel; neighbour guy is what I called him. I had lost so much of my life and until that moment my family could rest better knowing that I finally had someone else beside me every day. I started feeling better. The seizures were less but the head pains were constant. By the end of the summer I had another appointment with results for my next MRI. I walked in there nervous, anxious and much stressed. I hoped for good news this time. I deserved it. But those words came out of the Doctors mouth again: “There are still fragments of your tumours and they will continue to cause seizures if not removed.” They wanted me on a smaller dose of anti-seizures meds, and fast. Because of being a young female all these medications could lead to infertility. I could not work, I could not have my life back, and I had to start over again. A third surgery was scheduled to try and finally remove all tumours and help me live a healthy and normal life, seizure free and medication free. I got to enjoy the holidays with my loving family, friends and my new family from my angel neighbour guy’s side. I finally felt lucky. After all this time I felt blessed and positively driven for change. 
 
On my 25th birthday, May 2015, I went into my third surgery. This time around I had no complications at the hospital; I was sent home and have been resting here since. I am still waiting to receive my results next month from my last MRI and surgery. I know that there is hope because I have not had a seizure since this last surgery. The support and love of everyone in my life has helped me so much, and I finally have peace of mind knowing that through all of this; I never gave up. Because if you give up, you find yourself in a hole that you cannot get out of, and life becomes too dark. I know because I almost ended up there, but I was able to hold onto my family's strength to pull me out and keep on fighting. I wish I had known about Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada sooner. Throughout all these years of struggling, this website would definitely have been somewhere I turned to for help.
 
Life can be unfair and cruel, but no matter who you are, there is help out there somewhere for you. You have to believe in yourself and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you, and that light leads to a better beginning that will help you live past whatever bad things have happened to you. Once you make it there you can look back and smile because you are strong enough to fight through anything. You are a warrior. I am proud that I can now be thankful for having the knowledge from my experiences that can maybe help someone else in need. I am glad that I have the best medical team behind me 100% and can trust them with my life. I have a much greater respect for life and the new me. I am so grateful for family and friends and I am lucky to be breathing and able to appreciate all of the little things in life. My health will never be taken for granted and I wish to remind you that all we can do is move forward one day at a time.
 

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