Brain Cancer Survivor asks Why NOT me?

One of the things I love most about the summer showcase is it gives me a chance to share the stories of people using their lives to prove that no matter what you hear on the news, humans have a great capacity to love and support each other– even through the most difficult of circumstances.  Thanks Mary for helping to make humanity look so good!  

I’m 33 years old. I’m healthy. My blood pressure is 100/65. My BMI is 21.3. My “bad” cholesterol barely registers on the charts. I eat nutritious foods – lots of fruits, veggies, chicken, yogurt. I do have a sweet tooth, but I try to balance it out with some exercise.

Oh yeah, and I’m a brain cancer survivor.

**Cue screeching tires, deer in headlights look, and one or more of the following reactions:

“Are you ok?”
“But you look so healthy…”
“That’s terrible. You don’t deserve that!”

I am OK. I do look healthy and I feel healthy. And, there are over 600,000 people in the United States living with a primary brain tumor and not a single one of them deserves it.

My tumor was discovered accidentally after an MRI in 2002.  It was a slow growing tumor, so my doctors recommended a “watchful waiting” approach.  In 2008 the tumor had grown and after a biopsy, I was diagnosed with an Oligoastrocytoma.  Due to the location and size of the tumor, it is inoperable.  I began radiation therapy and chemotherapy in the winter of 2008.

No one knows the exact causes of brain tumors. There’s no real explanation why one person develops a brain tumor and another does not. Is it just dumb luck, or bad luck? Or, maybe it’s serendipity.

When someone is diagnosed with any type of cancer, it is common for the individual to ask, “why me?” I asked, “why not me?”

I have always believed that you are never given more than you can handle and people are so much stronger than they think they are. I decided a long time ago that if there is a certain percentage of the population that have to get cancer, I’m glad it was me as I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

I am the luckiest cancer survivor I know. I have an incredibly supportive husband, family and network of friends. I’m stubborn and I have a hard time asking for help, but I wouldn’t be who I am today or have the perspective that I have if they hadn’t helped me when and in the way I needed it.

How to Help

People want to help other people. We are naturally altruistic. So, how can you help someone who has been diagnosed with cancer?

Ask them.

Everyone has different needs and everyone has a limit to the type of help they are willing to receive. While they may need financial support, not everyone is comfortable having a fundraiser in their name. Providing a meal or gift cards for groceries may be more appreciated. Offer to help clean their house or mow their yard. Sometimes, the smallest things can help the most.

Since the discovery of my tumor in 2002, I’ve wanted to do something to help raise awareness about brain tumors.

After discussions about 5K runs and awareness walks, my family and I decided that we needed to do something that would allow participation by all. One evening in late fall, the idea of individuals knitting handmade scarves and hats and selling them to raise funds and awareness popped into my head. I don’t remember exactly what sparked the idea. It was serendipitous, as ever since I went through treatment I seem to always be cold!

Tie One on for Brain Cancer

In 2011, with help from my friends and family, Tie One On For Brain Cancer was born!

Tie One On For Brain Cancer provides an opportunity for everyone to assist in the quest to fund research that focuses on new therapies for brain tumor patients and improvements to existing therapeutic options.  Those who can’t knit or crochet can donate yarn or purchase items during our sales.

You can help raise awareness about the prevalence of brain tumors. Visit www.braintumor.org to learn about tumor types and treatment options, awareness and educational events and giving opportunities.

To learn more about Tie One On For Brain Cancer visit our website  or check us out on Facebook.

Share your story!

The summer showcase is all about you and the stories that inspire you. Or stories about how you spend your free time. It won’t be the same if your voice is missing.

Click here for more information on how share your story! Or, if you aren’t a phone-talker, e-mail me.

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