I am a Victor not a Victim!

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May 5, 2014 - Johannesburg, South Africa,

In 1999 I thought I had it all. I was a MD (GP) with a busy practice and happily married. On 12/17/1999 my world as it seems came to an abrupt halt. I had a massive tumour in my right parietal occipital lobe. I was diagnosed with an Astrocytoma Gr 3! Underwent surgery and intensive radiotherapy. I took a month holiday and started back at my practice. as the days went by I grew stronger, but having the "medical" knowledge it was challenging. The fear of my outcome and survival time affected all my decisions. Thinking I only had a lifespan of 2-3 years, we made the decision not to start a family. Life carried on. I engulfed myself with work, life, love and a Program called Hoping is Coping, founded by Denise Bernstein in Johannesburg. In 2005 I got the best news ever. I was healthy and pregnant (my husband laughingly refers to her as the "one hit wonder"). I gave birth to a precious little angel in 2006! In 2007, an MRI revealed a reoccurrence. I had surgery. Astrocytoma gr 3-4. II was gutted, I could not look into my daughters eyes without crying. I hugged her and wept. I felt defeated. Six weeks after the surgery I came down with "flu", and recurrent focal sensoric seizures! An emergency CT revealed that a 1/4 of my brain was full of fluid. I underwent emergency a craniotomy. I lost part of my skull and a few days! I had severe septicaemia, eventually I got through it. I had to wait six months before I could undergo my cranioplasty. The cranioplasty was a breeze and 2 months later I was back at work! In 2011, I had another recurrence. After the tumour resection, I was diagnosed with a Oligodendroglioma Gr3! Subsequent testing of my previous histology reports revealed, that it was too an Oligodendroglioma. I wanted to punch my colleague on the nose! How could anyone make such a grave mistake! How could I allow fear to intrude in, on my life and on my decisions! In 2013, I had another lesion removed, but subsequently I am clear and there is not a trace of tumour. I love my life. I am abundantly blessed. Completely independent. I feel passionate about removing the stigma around brain cancer. The patient and their spouses suffer the consequences of such a disease. Which in my heart, I feel is a human rights issue. I will fight this battle until my last breath! Hope this letter will be encouraging. If you want to eat an elephant, you eat little chunks every day!! Just keep going at it! Eventually it will disappear.