I’m 38 years of age and am a cancer survivor of twenty-one years. My life has been full of ups and downs. Back in, I believe 1992 (13 years old), I was showing signs that something was wrong. My parents took notice and surgery was performed where 80% of the tumor was removed and after testing was done, cancer cells were detected in the tumor. I had six weeks of intense radiation therapy with the first couple of weeks getting my spine and entire head scanned, after focusing on the location of the tumor which was beside my thalamus. Please excuse me if I have missed a few things, as I don’t recall everything and my parents would be a great resource for that.
Through the years, I graduated high school, met a great girl from out of town, got married, and have two awesome children. In 2010 I was scheduled for my last follow up MRI; however when they did the scan they located another tumor. At the time they said it was most likely a meningioma and that it was probably from the radiation but shouldn’t affect anything as they tend to be very slow growing (sort of like a wart on the brain).
Everything had gone well for me until 2011. I was having stomach issues and went into the ER. The doctor took me in and they decided to perform a scope to see if they could locate a cause, which should have been a forty-five-minute process. Once the doctor opened me up he found adhesions that had wrapped around my bowels.
While recovering in early 2012, I was put in contact with a neurosurgeon as the tumor that shouldn’t have grown had grown quite a bit more than they’d expected and now they wanted to take it out. The tumor was removed in March 2012. I continued to have bowel issues resulting in more than twenty ER visits and a total of seven hospital stays.
I have never been one for seeing myself as being different, but realization has started to come into play for me personally, and recognizing I do have a brain injury and what my body has gone through, prevents me from performing certain things and from me being a certain someone.
I have tried to make the best of most situations, but that can only last for so long. My wife goes to all my appointments with me now because I have trouble remembering everything; she makes a very good personal assistant.
My life revolves around these appointments and though I take a positive stance that I am still here and I survived, there is a cost. I didn’t know that the radiation would do so much damage. No one told me I wouldn’t see side effects for eighteen to twenty years. I would still have had the radiation and I know my parents saved my life by doing everything they could to get me better. I am going to try and get disability because at this point my neurons are getting sluggish (according to the neurologist) and I get tired very easily. My train of thought often derails or I lack concentration (my wife noticed this as gapping out ten years ago but the neurologist at the time didn’t think it was an issue…it is now). My life is good, my children are amazing, but working is becoming very difficult. I am under employed, unable to find a job in my field as I’m having a hard time interviewing. I am going to see a person who specializes in vocational rehabilitation who can hopefully assist me but eventually working at all may not be a possibility.