My journey began on April 26, 2016. While at home, my hands began to shake violently. The next thing I remember, I opened my eyes and my parents were beside me telling me an ambulance was on the way. My parents told me that I had a seizure and help would arrive soon. The paramedics arrived and did some tests, they told me that all my vitals were normal. I walked to the ambulance feeling nearly 100% and continued to feel better on the way to the hospital.
The paramedics explained that more tests would be conducted at the hospital but they see seizures all the time. They said that most of the time there is no reason behind the seizure. I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 PM and in the middle of the night I had a CT scan. I stayed at the hospital overnight and was given an infused CT scan the next morning. The doctors noticed an abnormality in the scans and ordered more tests as well as an MRI.
As I sat in the hospital everything seemed normal. Physically I felt fine, as if nothing had happened. What I didn’t anticipate were the next words that would come out of the doctor’s mouth, “you have a brain tumour”. It was difficult to comprehend what exactly that meant for me and what it meant for my future.
I was scheduled to see a neurosurgeon the next morning to discuss options and next steps. He told me that the tumour was in a favourable spot on my brain and appeared to be easily accessible through surgery. He would need to perform a craniotomy to remove the tumour. The seizure was a result of swelling in my brain around the tumour and meant that there had been some sort of change with it. He scheduled the surgery for May 10, 2016.
In the two weeks leading up to the surgery, I had numerous MRIs, CT scans, and various other tests. The surgery was successful and the tumour was removed without any complications. My neurosurgeon was optimistic about the results.
Two months later I received results of the biopsy, the tumour was a benign, grade 1 pilocytic astrocytoma. This was the luckiest, most positive diagnosis I could have received. I had only minor challenges in my recovery and after just a few months I felt fine again.
I now go for regular MRIs and thankfully the results are always good. I can live life as I did before the diagnosis; I have no symptoms and have not had any setbacks. The reality is that most people diagnosed with a brain tumour are not as fortunate as I am. Many people live with life-long impairments and struggle each and every day.
I fundraise for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada each year to support an organization that provides support to people going through a brain tumour diagnosis and funding for critical research to help put an end to this disease. Every day 27 Canadians are diagnosed with a brain tumour. Each diagnosis impacts not only the person diagnosed, but every person in their support system.
I am fortunate and grateful to be able to share my story and spread awareness about the impact a brain tumour diagnosis can have. The month of May is Brain Tumour Awareness Month and I encourage everyone to read about the different types of brain tumours and see how you can make a difference by visiting the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s website at braintumour.ca.
Donate to Josh’s fundraising efforts this year by clicking here.