When 30 Years Seems Like Yesterday – The Chronicles and Confessions of a Brain Tumour Survivor

Sept 16, 1991, Monday

Dear Diary

The nerologist, Mr. Young, told me that I have a brain tumor. It’s the size of a nickle. They’re sending me for more tests this week … I’m kind of still in shock. I never expected this. I expected epilepsy or, may be nothing. Jenn took it hard. I did to, eventually. I was so scared at first that I was, or am going to die. Surgery sounds scary!, but the tumor is low grade.”

You can tell my diary didn’t include spellcheck or Grammarly.

Today is the 30th anniversary of my first brain surgery, October 18, 1991.

I was 15 years old. Barely two weeks into grade 10. Looking forward to figure skating and entering my intermediate/pre-novice year. Taking driver’s ed. Getting my driver’s license. However, that changed overnight in mid-September after a seizure and a subsequent brain tumour diagnosis.

My mistake was pretending to be okay after that first diagnosis. Too often a child tries to be strong for their family and friends. We don’t want them to be sad, worried, feel more stress, deal with our pain, and so forth. With me, I felt like a burden because my parents needed someone to milk the cows, look after my four-year-old sister, find somewhere to stay in Winnipeg. The last thing they needed was a child rocking back and forth in a corner and blasting Metallica on their Walkman. I was more of a bubblegum pop girl, but still.

But I chose to pretend I was fine. I chose not to cry in front of my parents and friends. A couple of teachers wanted to start a support group for me. I chose to say no. The only time some of my friends saw me cry was my last day of school. We were on the bus, and one of my best friends was being dropped off. She hugged me and I could see her crying as she left the bus. I broke down. My other friends were saying, “You’ve been so strong, you need to cry,” and “Not many people would be able to handle this like you have.”

If they could’ve read my diary entries, they’d see I was stuffing my emotions.

My diary should’ve been about landing my double loop (alas) and worrying about exam exemptions. Instead it was, “I’m really nerseous inside, but if I act happy, no one knows.” My best speller certificate from grade three probably just burst into flames.

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