So, if you have read my ‘about me’ page, you all know that I had a brain tumor in 2014. This post is a very personal post and reflects the way I feel about life after this drastic change in life. There are quite some ‘hard’ pictures in there, so be warned. If you are interested in my way of living now and how I handled it, just click the ‘read more’ link.
You have something inside your head, in your brain … and we cannot tell you what it is. Those were the first words I got to hear from my neurologist at the ER.
Here’s what went on before these words:
It all started with headaches. Nothing spectacular, that’s what I thought. Headaches run in our family so I didn’t think anything of this. In June 2014 I went to Nice, just a day trip by plane (I work at an airline company so I can do this very cheap) which means I left early in the morning and got back at night. Because of the cabin pressure, the tumor pushed into my brain. Starting a month later I was having significant more problems with strength and headaches (I threw up once and I thought it was a migraine).In the beginning of August my grandmother’s GP came by for her monthly checkup. I didn’t want to ask anything but my mom forced me, and I still thank her! He did some neurological tests, small ones, and immediately noticed a small difference. This could be neurological so he wrote me a referral letter. I called that neurologist and I could come by September 3rd. Well… I didn’t make the appointment. Everything started to change drastically and I started to paralyze on my left side. I actually kept postponing going to the ER because deep inside, I knew something was wrong. I was just in a huge denial and didn’t tell anyone. Until one day, I got up for work at 2 am in the morning and I tried to put on my uniform. I just started crying, I couldn’t close the buttons and my left arm needed support. This is when I realized: F*** this is wrong, so wrong! When I got home from work I told my mom and boyfriend. We waited and things got worse and worse … One day I just couldn’t take it anymore and I was desperately looking for help. My mom told me to call the GP so that’s what I did. She directed me to the ER and I went first thing the next morning together with my boyfriend. He actually googled all of my symptoms and already knew what was going on but never told me because he just thought this was so wrong (I do not recommend googling your symptoms btw, google is no doctor). We went to the ER and made some fun because, yeah you know, this couldn’t be too serious? A lot of tests followed and the neurologist literally said: we don’t expect anything serious so you can go home later. We are just doing a CT scan to make sure … That’s when the bomb exploded. They called me into a small room to tell the news. Little did I know this would be the outcome. That’s when they said the words: We are going to be straight forward with you: you’ve got something inside your head and we just don’t know what it is. I just stared crying hysterically … Afterwards they made an MRI scan and that’s when they saw the orange sized tumor inside my head, squeezing my right brain half. I got transferred to one of Belgians top hospitals: UZ Leuven and got a top neurosurgeon.
My tumor got removed September 4th, was in IC for 3 days and went home after a week.
I weighed 44 kilos when I got home. 4 months post surgery, I started working out with the ‘bikini body guides’ by Kayla Itsines (blogpost coming soon!). Mainly as a rehabilitation process that is still going on in the present day. I stopped with physiotherapy because I just felt they couldn’t make the old me come back again. I now am 1 year and 6 months tumor free!
So that was the ‘before’ story. Here is how I handle things now.
I still struggle with the fact I had a brain tumor, both mentally and physically.
Physically by the constant left side problems. This means my left side feels slightly paralyzed but actually is perfectly normal. The reason is a permanent brain damage.
Mentally because of the emotional struggle. Everything happened so fast and I still can’t quite understand what happened. I think I will never understand … I still ask myself: Why and how? Those questions will never get an answer because there simply isn’t one. I often hear I’m an extremely positive person and they admire the way I handle this part of my life. I must say I seem more positive than I sometimes feel. Everybody has those days of emotional struggles, only mine are in quite extreme forms. Cancer is hard to coop with, even for the strongest among us. Everybody has their own way to handle their after cancer life. I try to be positive about it, to see it as a second chance to enjoy life at it’s best. I also drastically changed my lifestyle: I eat healthy and I workout 6 times a week.
I try to be the best version of the old me, that’s what keeps me going. Together with all the support I get from family, friends, colleagues and social media.