Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Journey + life with cancer.

I can't believe 5 years ago today I was waiting at the hospital for my name to be called and start the hours and hours of brain surgery. Yup brain surgery... If you're new to this blog click here to see the full story on that. To make things short I was going into surgery to remove {as much as possible} of my Oligodendroglioma stage 2 brain tumor. This tumor was located in my temporal lobe and had been slowly growing for {give or take} 10 years. This type of tumor is usually found in men within the age range between 50-60... at this time I was only 22 {not to mention a woman}. I'll never know why or how this happened to me but it did.

More than anything I didn't understand why it was me... I had already gone through or dealt with enough health problems. {Rewind back to when I was young} I found out I was growth hormone deficient and was expected to maybe be 4ft 9inches at my tallest, if I was lucky. With that, I was put on growth hormone shots from 4th grade till I finished 8th grade and moved on up to high school. Between Middle School and High School I broke 6 bones. Then in college I was that girl who became very sick with mononucleosis and the Swine Flu. But, despite going through all of that it didn't matter because nothing was like what my brother had gone through. 
Alec, my favorite {and only} brother ;) was born with Hypo plastic left heart syndrome which made him have to go through 3 heart surgeries over the course of about 2 years. Not only did my family have to travel back and forth to Pennsylvania {while we lived in Oregon} for his surgeries but his third and final one didn't go well and left him unable to walk, talk, sit, stand... and do hardly anything. He lost so many brain cells during his heart surgery that he would never be the same. He was thought to only make it to 7 or 8 years old... if he was lucky. Since I was so young I didn't understand why. My brother left me talking and walking, playing and just being a little kid.... But when he came back he couldn't move, he didn't respond and as a 4 year old I thought he was just mad at me... and never really understood why. My brother is still with us today and has just about tripled his life expectancy. He is an amazing kid and we have been lucky enough to have our parents be his full time caregivers and work from home.
Fast forward to 2011... the year I had graduated from college, got engaged and moved down to Arizona with my fiancé to start our careers. I thought this was the beginning of something new and I honestly felt the best I ever have in my life. But after only a couple weeks everything change. Having a seizure was odd for me because I have watched my brother have one almost everyday my entire life. I always wondered what it felt like or what it actually did. Unfortunately for me the seizure was caused by the tumor. It had gotten so big it actually caused that to happen with so much pressure in my brain. I now, like my brother have epilepsy, except I only have 1 or 2 a year. With that I've never understand how my parents have been able to be who they are today after going through the things that me and my brother have gone through. When I say I have the best parents I truly mean it, because they are. Not sure how many other ones have had two of their kids go through heart surgery and brain surgery and everything else along with it. I know they already know this but I love them more than anything.

These past 5 years have had their ups and downs. From going through surgery to getting married. To finding out the cancer was back to beating it again through chemo and radiation, from spending many nights/days in the hospital to traveling across the country. I may have been dealt a bad hand in health but luckily for me everything else in my life is my everything and I wouldn't change it for the world. Thank you to my friends and family for everything they have done and continue to do.
Thank you to my wonderful husband who has stood by my side and loved me through everything.

I'm ready to start yet another year and I know this year is going to be the best year yet, just wait and see ;)

Pictures from over the years...

My first mini surgery... a "biopsy" to determine what type of tumor it was:


The light colored mass on the right was the tumor before surgery:

Black area on the right was after surgery and what was removed:

Chemo + Radiation:




Here is my brother Alec:






And last but not least me + him together:

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