Thriving through Brain Cancer

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March 6, 2016 - Ames, Iowa

My name is Kim Townsend and I have had four cancer episodes within the past 16 years. It started out with a brain tumor which was successfully resected at John’s Hopkins. I prayed for and received a sense of humor so I really didn’t pay too much attention to it and the seriousness of it. Plus my neuro surgeon, Dr. Weingart, never called it cancer so it wasn’t so awful. I moved from the East coast to the belly button of America (Ames, Iowa) and lived a full life having my two other kids, teaching and being incredibly active never knowing any statistics about my ”cancer”. I was diagnosed with breast cancer about 7 years ago now and then another brain tumor just a week after breast reconstruction surgery. I went back to Hopkins to have it operated on then they asked me to undergo brain radiation. My radiologist at the time here in Ames asked me to look into MD Anderson’s proton therapy and I did but ended up being treated with IMRT. My youngest son, who was 3 years old at the time and I moved to Houston to live with my parents for about 3 or 4 months while I was being treated while my husband had the older two kids here with him. I had a great time in Houston, visiting old friends going to football games, singing in the church choir but most importantly just being with my family. The treatment effects lasted for about 7 years till my current and inoperable brain tumor was diagnosed last February so I’m receiving chemotherapy (currently on my 8th round). What I have learned from cancer has been astounding! One of my friends living with her own brain tumor stated that the best revenge against this terrible disease is living a full life! I think that most people who have lived through any crisis would say the same thing – it makes them stronger. Many times it brings out the best in us and also many times it allows a truer deeper relationship with Christ since we have shared in his pain which gives us a suffering knowledge creating a deep empathy with others. It also has brought out in me an activism that is no longer concerned with how others might perceive me. I have truly learned to thrive – to blossom through these past 16 years. I have learned how to create a team of specialists that I am the leader in my treatment. So, at this time I have a neuro-oncologist at Mayo, my current oncologist here in Ames, my radiologist at MD Anderson, by neurosurgeon at Hopkins and finally my nutritional oncologist in Logan, Utah. We all work together helping me and those that I am associated with, live a full life, bypassing all the negative. I am currently finishing my PhD in higher education, sending my oldest off to college, presenting at conferences, writing and (hopefully publishing papers). I volunteer and have parachuted out of airplanes, climbed some of the highest peaks in the world in Nepal and am currently planning on competing in the discus competition with the Iowa Games. I could go on, not to be boastful but to prove that these things are so possible for all who have cancer or any other affliction or overwhelming problem. I don’t think of my time here on Earth is limited, but rather, precious. I would pray that others would also think that way and understand that God is in our every cell of our being. He is the creator of the universe – the creator that breathes out suns, but at the same time he is our ABBA (roughly translated as our daddy) who loves us perfectly gives us resources to use as we cry out to him. What other source of peace and contentment do we need?