In August 2009, while floating on the lake on a hot, sunny, peaceful afternoon, we received the call that upset our tranquil world. After suffering severe headaches and vomiting for several months, our daughter, Susie, very calmly explained that an MRI done earlier that afternoon had detected a fist-sized tumor at the base of her brain stem. Surgery began early the next morning and lasted eight hours. Her neurosurgeon, Patrick Han, came out of surgery exhausted. He explained to the family how the surgery went, but stressed that she still had a lot of work to do.
Throughout the entire journey, Susie was our strength, instead of the other way around. We all thought that once the tumor was removed, she’d be back to normal fairly quickly, but that was not case. Even though the tumor was benign, there were still many, many obstacles to overcome before she realized any sense of normalcy. After 10 days in the hospital, Susie was transferred to a rehab unit where she basically learned to walk and talk all over again, among other things. She could not swallow and had to have a feeding tube inserted, which wasn’t removed for seven months. Even after she got to go home, she still needed radiation treatment as well as months of speech therapy. It was no picnic, but Susie never faltered or complained. Her love for her husband, James, and two children, Emily and Nathan, as well as the rest of her family always seemed to be first and foremost in her mind…not what was happening to her. Sue still tires easily and has good days and bad, when asked if she’s okay, she tells us she’s fine. And all of her follow up MRIs show no signs of new growth.
It’s been a long road, but we are grateful each and every day that we have Susie with us. One thing we’ve learned is that you can’t keep Susie down. She’s been an inspiration to us all, and it is no small miracle to have her with us.