Please join me in congratulating Anne for her reaching her 22 year mark for cancer survivorship today!!! The picture above is Anne and her parents at a Gilda’s fundraiser. Anne jumped at the chance to post a blog below exhibiting her Pittsburgh Perseverance!
November 10th, marks the 22nd anniversary of my diagnosis and start of treatment. I was ten years old in 1991, and on this day, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. The night before, an MRI showed the stage 4 tumor sitting in my right temporal lobe, and on the day of my craniotomy (Nov. 10), my physicians confirmed that it was brain cancer.
As this was, of course, a major shock to my family and me, we weren’t given much time to comprehend it, and/or the upcoming course of treatments. I quickly underwent multiple follow-up tests and scans, to prepare for several months of radiation therapy and a one year course of chemotherapy.
The next 5-6 years were probably the most difficult, as I had to adjust to many acute direct and non-direct side effects. The usual of losing my hair, feeling fatigued, irritable gastro-intestinal problems, and lots, and lots of follow-up appointments and tests composed most of my high school years. One of the more difficult effects I had to endure was the damage to my thyroid and pituitary glands, which stunted my growth. At ten years old, I was already very short (come from a petite family, haha), but I didn’t want to remain four feet for the rest of my life. Thus, I received daily growth-hormone shots for 3 years, and I am now successfully a full five feet, 1inch. (taller than my mom, haha)!!
Well, I am now past my 20-year mark of being cancer-free, but I still endure late side-effects. These have ranged from Raynaud’s Disease (chemo), multiple gum and teeth abnormalities (RT), and most recently, absent seizures (multiple brain tissue traumas). All of these have presented various challenges in my life, but each also provides a way for me to be thankful for the continuing care that I receive.
Thus, despite ongoing late-term effects, I have and will continue to seek diligent follow-up care. Like Marty, Gilda’s Club has provided a way for me to connect with other cancer survivors. As I have learned in the past 22 years, survivorship entails both physical and emotional health.