I took last night to let the news sink in, or at least I tried to, but yesterday’s news brought too much excitement. I knew the day would come and I was optimistic, but I have still yet to process it. Yes, yesterday I received the best news ever from my medical team at Yale . After 11 long years of battling this beast, starting at age 24 which required 5 surgeries, radiation, an onset of seizures and pretty much uprooting my life and changing the course of my career, albeit I am grateful – I am officially “tumor free!”
Upon seeing my doctor walk into the room, my heart sank and I got a pit in my stomach, fearing something was wrong. Fortunately, that was a fleeting fear as he quickly sported a big smile, proudly pronouncing “It’s gone, my friend!” Simultaneously, Ashley and I both exhaled a big sigh of relief as smiles ran across our faces. In an instant, the realization that I had won the battle set in because though my tumor was benign, given its chemical makeup and the history, I knew there was always a chance. Yesterday however, those fears vanished when I heard he was 100% confident and certain that the tumor is gone forever and looking at the scan myself, seeing nothing but brain and a working shunt, a song ran through my head:
“Somewhere I heard that life is a test
I been through the worst but I still give my best
God made my mold different from the rest
Then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed”
For more than a decade, my life has been anything but ordinary as I was always hesitant and wondering “what if.” But now that I know I have five years and with the best doctor out there, I know this is behind me and I owe it to you, especially my parents. You have all supported me in the darkest of times, when I thought I would never recover to be able to speak, read or write again, or that I would ever regain the strength lost on one side of my body, and for that I am forever grateful. So to show my gratitude, I am resolved to pay it forward and help anyone fighting this diagnosis and in need through the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance.
When I first joined the CTBTA, I was fortunate to meet Tracey, Greg, Jen, Andy, Stacey, Ron, Kim H., Susan, David, KC, Maria, KPD and Terry. Since then, the Board and organization has grown and new members have joined, as has our footprint and impact on the state. But I want to recognize the founding members for taking the chance in starting this organization so that patients, such as myself, don’t have to battle this alone. I am incredibly grateful for the introduction to you and thank you for embracing me with open arms, welcoming me to the Board and allowing me to rise the ranks to your Executive Director. Together, we can and will, make Connecticut a center of excellence in brain tumor care and be the resource that new patients and families need.
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. So as one chapter closes, a new one begins…