It was only a few months after graduating from Colorado State University with my Bachelor’s Degree that I began having seizures. I had just accepted my first job out of college at the Colorado State Capitol as a Legislative Aide for the House of Representatives, and was just one measly month into it when the first seizure occurred. It scared me- but I moved along thinking it was just a fluke and I shouldn’t worry about it. Then, it happened again… and again…
After getting MRI scans of my brain, I was informed I had a brain tumor and the only way to confirm if it was cancerous was to have a brain biopsy.
On May 3rd 2016, I went in for brain surgery. I was more scared than I have been in my entire life. I was scared something would happen to me during the surgery and someone was going to have to make decisions for me. I was scared the surgeon was going to have to shave my whole head, instead of just the small portion we had discussed. I was scared I would wake up and not look the same. I had so many thoughts racing through my mind for the weeks and days before the surgery and up until the final moment before I was put under.
I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit and was thankful just a tiny bit of my hair was gone. The surgery was successful. They got the sample of the tumor they needed. They put staples in my head and I now have a metal plate over the part of my skull that was taken out for the surgery.
On Friday May 13th 2016, I was told not only do I have a brain tumor, I have brain cancer. I’m not sure why, but I asked my doctor to repeat it multiple times and to explain it over and over again. I just couldn’t comprehend it. I asked him to explain to me what malignant means multiple times. He kept explaining it means, “life threatening,” and “aggressive.” He said those words to me so many times, but I just was so shocked to hear those words that I couldn’t accept them and I needed him to repeat them because i knew I needed to before I left that day.
The tumor I was diagnosed with is called an Grade II Oligoastrocytoma.
I quickly began chemotherapy and toughed it out for a year even though there was almost no change in my tumor size.
So here I am two years later..
I have lost a lot to cancer. A lot had to change for me. I have lost friendships. I have lost pieces of me. I have lost some of my dreams (because I am realistic). I have lost some of my cognitive abilities. I have lost a great deal of my independence.
I have also gained a lot. I have gained an amazing boyfriend who is battling brain cancer with me. I have unbeatable friends who stand by me. I have new dreams. I have new appreciation for sunsets, music, flowers and animals. I have three golden retrievers that are MY WORLD that make me smile on bad days and make me smile even bigger on good days.
I have a lot to be thankful for. I really do. I have an unwavering support from my family.
I know this cancer will take my life if something else doesn’t get me first. There is no cure.
This cancer has put a fire under me and brought me to my feet. At my diagnosis appointment, I was told I would be lucky if I make it to 40 years old and that the prognosis for what I’m dealing with is about 10-15 years. Since I’m done with the chemo (for now) I gotta get the most out of this life I can. I intend to continue immersing myself in politics, learning about law enforcement, helping people with disabilities, going on mountain adventures, and reading about current events and crime.
I never imagined this would be something I would be dealing with and I’m sure my parents never thought they would be a caregivers to a daughter with brain cancer.
I am strong. I can do this. And even if I can’t, I have to.