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I believed in myself which helps me keep positive, even when things get hard.
Last year I was at a 21st party when I fell over and hurt myself. My head hurt so I went to the doctor who said I had concussion, I had a week’s leave to recover from it. After that week, my head still hurt and I was finding I was falling over more often. I kept tripping over things that I had seen, and dropping things as well. I am quite a clumsy person normally, but this was happening too often so I decided to visit the doctors again a week later. This time the doctor sent me to the hospital.
I went to the hospital where I waited for ages before I was seen. They took me to do some MRI scans and I waited some more for my results. The results came in and the Doctor sat me down after calling my mum. It was bad news. I had a brain tumour and was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma. We both cried, and when my aunties found out, it was a cry fest.
That day I was flown to Wellington and admitted to the cancer unit spending the weekend in the hospital. I had fluid in my brain so they began treating that immediately, and on Monday I went into brain surgery. It took seven and a half hours in which they removed 95% of my tumour which was on my brain stem.
They had warned me pre-surgery that because of where my tumour was located that I would lose my balance and my ability to speak this happened directly after my surgery and there was still more to do, the entire tumour was not removed.
I had to begin radiation and chemotherapy to get rid of the rest of the tumour. I had already lost my balance so found it hard to move around and I lost my ability to speak and now on top of this I also had the effects of radiation and chemotherapy to deal with. The pain was hard, but seeing my hair fall out is what made me cry and brake down.
Despite my body going through changes because of surgery and treatment, I kept positive about it all, believing in myself and that things would get better if I just kept moving forward. I drew on this belief that when I was all done with surgeries and treatment and it was time to get my life back on track.
I had to use a wheelchair because of my balance and begin speech therapy to help get my speech back. It was hard having to relearn these basic things, but I focused on the progress I made to help keep me positive and believe that I will get there eventually.
My life has changed. I do have to rely on others a bit more to get around but the progress I’ve made has everyone amazed. I have been fortunate to have really supportive people around me throughout, with CanTeen being the source of some of those people. They provided me with things I needed and wanted during treatment and celebrated my accomplishments, no matter how small they were. It was also nice to talk to someone in hospital that wasn’t family that knew what I was going through.
Cancer journeys can change you not just physically but also emotionally and mentally. I definitely have. Although physically I’m not where I use to be, I’m stronger emotionally and mentally. I’ve accomplished lots and am proud of where I am today.
Olivia - Taranaki