Paulina and Charnelle
My sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor at a very young age – either 3 or 4 years old. She underwent surgery and radiation to successfully stop the bleeding and growth – but only momentarily. At the age of 13 years old and on Thanksgiving Day 2002, Charnelle had to be rushed to the hospital with symptoms of severe headache, difficulty in controlling her balance, and eventually losing mobility throughout her body. Unfortunately, the tumor began growing again. She underwent more surgery, more radiation to once again stop the bleeding and growth. It worked – but only again was it momentarily.
In the hospital one month, doctors called it a miraculous recovery – very speedy. Although she was not completely healed, because of the location of the tumor being on her brain stem, to already be headed to Baltimore for rehab was outstanding. After one year of rehab, home nursing …my little sister passed away on August 28, 2004 – 14 years old. It was that moment that changed my life.
I would never consider Charnelle a victim of a brain tumor as she refused to allow it to victimize her. Although diagnosed at a very young age, Charnelle went through elementary school and junior high at the top of her class, on honor roll every year, made plenty of friends – no one knew this cancer was in her body. I am the one who feels like the victim because I couldn’t do anything to help – or, at least I thought.
I have joined Race for Hope walks held in Washington, DC, and I have started an online store selling canvas prints of photos taken myself. Portion of proceeds will be donated to The National Brain Tumor Society to improve treatments, discover a cure, and bring awareness. Charnelle would want me to help others – that is how I keep her spirit going and memory alive. She refused to be a victim, and so will I.
Faith & Love to those suffering directly/indirectly. You are not alone – there are thousands fighting with you, including me.
Founder, The Candid Angle