New Life

Kelsie Barry, Brain Tumor Survivor

By: Kelsie Barry, Astrocytoma Survivor

The morning I woke up in my new city of Las Vegas, I felt like I didn’t sleep for more than a couple of minutes. As I got dressed to go to my new job site I transferred to, I noticed that I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes and felt a drift of dizziness run through my body. Day after day, I felt like my head hovered above my shoulders.  

My words became slurred, my balance off, and I felt a deep paranoia with every person I met. I stopped looking outside my window if the sun was out, and after three months I had my first seizure in a nail salon. Test after test, and doctor after doctor, I wasn’t able to get an answer as to what was going on within my body. I began experiencing major panic attacks at work and at home, which led me to my first and not my last suicide attempt.  

After waking up in my coworker’s arms in the hallway of my office after blacking out from an attack, my managers excused me on a leave to “get better.” I worked tirelessly at this. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and complied to taking medications for the condition. I still experienced physical symptoms time and time again. I took an EEG test and nothing was found. After months of waiting, I left work early to get an MRI. For nine months, I told myself that it was all in my head, and I finally found out that it was. I was rushed out of the radiology office and sent to the emergency room for a large growth found in my right frontal lobe. 

With the help of a village made of doctors, friends, and family, I was sent to UCLA for a craniotomy of a malignant Grade 3 Astrocytoma, where my friends and family gathered to support me. After waking up from surgery, I knew life wouldn’t ever be the same. Upon arriving back to Las Vegas, I was taken in by relatives for recovery. Every day was a beautiful, and a tough battle. Everything I ever knew about myself crumbled as I rebuilt a new life. Smells had a new scent, feeling had a new feel, and I was provided the gift of a second chance which many don’t receive.  

Over time, I regained strength, cognitive skills, and a new lens to see an abundant world in which I once viewed as a sinister nightmare. Today, I am one year out of surgery, closer with my family than I ever have been before, in the meanwhile, learning a “new normal” and on the pursuit of of building a new identity. My life was passed through many hands and now it’s finally mine.

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