Joan’s Story

It was the Summer of 1990. I was going to turn 25 that year and I had just finished college. I was late to finish because I had trouble picking a major. Anyway, I finished.

I had been living off campus in Southampton NY renting a room from a woman who opens her home up to visitors. I was about to move out and start my new life as a college graduate. My mother had come out tor help me find an apartment. We spent a Saturday, (her day off from IBM) picking out an apartment. I was excited. As she headed off back to Rockland to start another work week she said she would return next week to help me move. That was the end of my life with my mother as I knew it for 25 years.

Moving day drew closer and I was making plans for her next visit. I returned back to my room and was faced with a very alarming message from the woman I was staying with in Southampton. She said that my mother couldn’t come to help me move because she had a major seizure driving home from I B M and the cause of the seizure was unknown. Immediately I went into shock. I wondered what was wrong. I always thought of my mom as kind of a solid rock. She was young, she had a good job and was a great source of emotional support. I was dumbfounded. I went to visit her at home. Moving and starting a new life as a college graduate wasn’t; at the forefront of my mind anymore.

I heard talk of tumors but she would shut the door when people would talk so I couldn’t hear. She was trying to protect me but that wouldn’t work because this was the first water of a damn that was about to burst. Exploratory surgery or a biopsy was done and they found a malignancy, I was told over the phone. Hmm, malignancy. How bad could that be? Well, it was just about as bad as it could get. The next word added to my vocabulary as English Major was Glioblastoma Multiform stage 4.

I got a pretty good introduction when I went to Columbia Presbyterian to visit her. Her head was shaven, I could see sutures from the biopsy and overall she looked extremely fragile. I don’t think she was ready to accept the Glioblastoma anymore than I was. She still tried to drive her car and well, she just didn’t seem to know what to make of things. It was a very rude awakening to adulthood for me and a rude awakening to midlife for her, actually she wasn’t going to have much of a midlife.

Well, I guess I am just trying to explain that it really was a tragedy in my life, losing my mom that way. I suspect she got hit with a Glioblastoma because she went for a procedure to get rid of acne and it exposed to her a tremendous amount of radiation. I have read many times that free flowing radiation is associated with a Glioblastoma Multiforme.

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