I created this blog to keep my friends, family, and those who have shown interest in my journey updated while I have been so far away. Here is a brief rundown of my journey through the past little while. Brace yourself – it’s been a whirlwind!
December 2012, I met the love of my life, Paul Dueck, at the Asper School of Business. We dated for 3 years before getting married on January 30, 2016. We just received our wedding video this week and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Take a look at our wedding video, to see one of the best days of my life 🙂
Everything about our wedding was amazing, and we had a blast dancing with our friends and family at the beautiful Fairmont until they shut the party down. After the wedding we took off to Mexico for our honeymoon. When I returned to my job at National Bank Financial, much to my surprise, I was offered a new role as the Branch Administrator. After a couple weeks of careful consideration, I took the job, which ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made. I love my job and am blessed to work with incredible people.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long in my new role before I started to experience lots of discomfort and unusual symptoms: severe neck pain, aches in my arms, and intermittent hearing and vision loss. On March 17th the symptoms were so bad that I didn’t think I could drive home from work, so I asked Paul to pick me up and take me to the Victoria Hospital to see if they would help me in the Emergency Room. The CT scan came back negative, and they sent me home telling me to keep an eye on the symptoms, that they thought were due to a minor car accident in a parking lot several months prior. Paul and I were frustrated by their prognosis and knew there had to be more to the story.
April continued and my symptoms grew progressively worse. The pain became unbearable, and some days I had to close my office door and lie down on the floor until the dizziness subsided. Up to this point I never missed an hour of work, and was also studying every evening for my Canadian Securities Course. On April 28th, I saw a great doctor in the ER that took time to do blood work and other tests, and scheduled an MRI for the next morning. After a day of waiting, I was told that they had found a brain tumor as big as a Christmas orange wedged between my brain stem and cerebellum.
The neurosurgeons told me that my symptoms were due to the fact that the tumor was pressing against my brain stem, and that they would need to remove it in a week (at Health Sciences, Winnipeg), before the symptoms worsened. Due to the location of the tumor, it was going to be a very challenging surgery, and they were going to have to be very careful to not damage the brain stem while attempting to remove all of the tumor. I was blessed to have a team of amazing neurosurgeons, and the surgery was a success, as they were able to remove the whole tumour. The doctors mentioned it surprisingly rolled away from the brainstem with ease.
We waited 3 weeks to get the pathology report back. Those 3 weeks were tough, as I recovered from surgery, and wondered if it had been cancerous. The report came back that the tumor was malignant, and was called Medulloblastoma; an aggressive tumor that would require further treatment (i.e., both radiation and chemotherapy) to make sure there were no cancer cells near the tumour site.
This kind of tumor is most commonly found in children, and very rarely in adults. CancerCare had only seen 24 cases in adults in the last 25 years. With such little data and recommended plans for adults, it was imperative for us to exhaust all our resources and find the best treatment plan. After long hours of careful research Mass General had come up with our family doctor as well as many colleagues we confided in. Mass General is one of about 13 hospitals in the United States that offer proton beam radiation therapy and 1 of 5 that treat my case. While the results of Proton Therapy do not differ from typical IMRT radiation (the type of radiation therapy that Canada uses), the side effects both long and short term are known to have more favourable outcomes.
It was a miracle that I was able to get in for treatment at Mass General so quickly, as one of the lead radiation oncologists at Mass General spent a lot of time talking with us, and pulled strings to get me in quickly. I require 30 radiation treatments (one each day Monday-Friday) that started on July 6th and finish around August 17th. On Tuesdays I also receive chemotherapy.
So here I am, living in an apartment for the summer with my husband, mom and and dad, just 40 feet from the hospital in downtown Boston. I never thought this would be my summer 2016, but I have been encouraged by the faith of my pastor, my family and friends and an amazing team of neurosurgeons and doctors along the way. Many of you reading have been praying for me and encouraging others to pray for me. For this I will be forever grateful and changed.