My brain is no longer whole, but I am better for it.
If anyone had told me seven years ago that I would be diagnosed with brain cancer and would live to tell about it I would have laughed at them. Me? Brain cancer? No, I am not strong enough. That’s the funny thing about cancer though, if that’s possible. It shows you exactly what you’re made of.
It was early in January of 2012 that my body started telling me that something was off, but surely it wasn’t anything serious. A slight headache when I would stand up was probably only low blood sugar. The blurry vision that accompanied it was from staring at my computer screen too long, but certainly not anything to worry about. Until it was.
The day my life changed forever was a mild afternoon at the end of March. I had just finished eating lunch at my office and suddenly had the strangest sensation. I was outside of my body looking down at myself. Then came the nausea and everything blurred in my right eye. I decided to go lie down in another office where there was a couch. I just happen to be lucky enough to work with my significant other, Darrell. It was in his office, on that couch, where I had a seizure. I woke up with him and a friend of ours standing over me asking me questions that I should know the answers to. What year was it? Who was president? I didn’t know. I was rushed to the emergency department at Greenville Memorial Hospital. Three days later, I had a tumor the size of a fist removed from my brain. My whole family, and Darrell’s, was there when I woke up so I knew it had to be serious.
My mom told me that I looked like someone from a Mad Max movie and not to be scared when I looked in the mirror. I got off the bed, shuffled to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My mother was right. I was some strange version of myself, but I was okay with that. That is not to say that there weren’t a lot of tears, “why me’s” and doubts that I would be okay. For the first few weeks, I cried every time I looked in the mirror. It was partly out of sadness, but mostly because I was thankful. I could walk, talk and laugh—things could have been much worse.
Then came the good news. I had a rare form of brain tumor, and I qualified for a clinical trial that would study the effectiveness of receiving both chemotherapy and radiation at the same time. Even better, I would be able to participate at the Cancer Institute and wouldn’t need to travel out of the area. If I chose to be a part of it, I would be taking a chance. I might be randomly assigned to the group that got both treatments. Or I could be assigned to the placebo group that did not receive the treatments simultaneously, and I would never know how effective they could be if they were used together. I knew there was no other option but to take the chance and say yes.
It has been six years now, and I am CANCER FREE. My journey is not over, though. I go to my checkups at Prisma Health Cancer Institute, which Dr. Jeffrey Edenfield (I call him Dr. Jeff in my head) makes far more pleasant than I could have ever imagined. I tell everyone that asks that I was blessed in every way possible. I think my journey was successful not just because I had the best doctors I could have hoped for, but also because of the people that surrounded me with love and supported me every step of the way.
So let me close with this: I think that cancer touches everyone’s life in some way. You have a brother, sister, child or friend of a friend that has been diagnosed with some form of cancer. Even as I write this, my sister tells me that a high school friend just found out her cousin has the same form of rare brain cancer that I had. No one person’s journey is the same. Take time for the people you cherish, laugh more often and celebrate life every chance you get!
This blog post was written by Diana Glick. For more information on the Prisma Health Cancer Institute, click here.